A ‘Round-Up’ of hope
Dec 10, 2012 | 494 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland Utilities customers are now receiving in their monthly statements details about “Project Round-Up” and how it hopes to raise as much as $100,000 per year in support of area families who are struggling to meet utility, housing and medical expenses.

Donor participation is strictly voluntary so CU customers who do not wish to contribute may opt out simply by contacting the local utility company.

We urge CU patrons to give the program a chance. We do so for many reasons.

But first things first. What is Project Round-Up? Although our newspaper has published several articles about the new initiative on our front page, as well as dedicating a couple of editorials to its cause, we recognize they could have been overlooked.

Let us briefly describe Project Round-Up, what it hopes to accomplish and on whose behalf, and how it can give CU customers a convenient and personally rewarding outlet for helping others. To quote a familiar theme, it’s all about “... serving as our brother’s keeper.” In this case, “neighbor’s keeper” carries the same intent.

Project Round-Up is an inaugural partnership between Cleveland Utilities and United Way of Bradley County Inc. in which customer donations are placed into a CU emergency account. From there, they are transfered to The Caring Place whose social workers assist struggling families and individuals based on documented need. This type of assistance is not limited just to CU customers, but to Cleveland and Bradley County families who are serviced by other area utility providers.

Of all Project Round-Up donations, 80 percent of the funds will be distributed for utility needs and the remaining 20 percent for housing, medical and other related expenses.

Project Round-Up is given its name by how its customers donate. For example, if a customer’s bill is $35.69, it will be rounded up to $36 on the monthly statement. The 31-cent difference is placed into the emergency account.

On average, the typical CU customer who participates will have donated about $6 per year. Even with only 50 percent participation, CU can raise an estimated $100,000 per year.

This alone serves as testament to the importance of Project Round-Up.

But why should a CU customer agree to have his or her monthly bill rounded up to the next dollar, whether it’s a difference of one penny or 99 cents? Just a few thoughts include:

1. Family incomes differ; some still face unemployment and others must settle for underemployment.

2. Family health varies; catastrophic illness, especially involving a primary income provider, can devastate low- to middle-income classes.

3. Family opportunity fluctuates; the ability to be hired often depends on education, background and networking, and in too many instances workers have no such variables in their favor.

4. Family luck is inconsistent; the well-being of too many area residents is impacted by conditions outside their control — worksite layoffs, home maintenance, automobile repairs and other unforeseen expenses.

5. Family expenses keep rising; it is everywhere — groceries, insurance, medicine. More families face more cost and less income.

Project Round-Up seeks only to help people in need. It doesn’t line the pockets of utility executives. It doesn’t provide bonuses for jobs well done. It pays no administrative fees. It doesn’t pay bills for the irresponsible.

Project Round-Up warms those who are cold.

Project Round-Up keeps the lights on for the weary.

Project Round-Up feeds the hungry.

Project Round-Up helps keep a roof over the heads of the forlorn.

Project Round-Up helps buy medicine for the sick and for those most in need.

It is not a miracle program. It is not a program with all the answers. It is a people program.

Project Round-Up is merely the soft side of a utility provider that seeks to warm the heart as well as the home — while doing it as a willing partner with its own customers.

Project Round-Up is worthy of a chance.

It is true brotherly love at a cost of just a few pennies.