This year-round THAW keeps the heat flowing and the lights on

The Heat and Warmth Fund provides utility assistance for Michigan families and essential workers

Thanks to a welcoming THAW, more Michigan families are staying healthy, safe and warm.

Since 1985, The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) has distributed more than $200 million to help Michigan households pay their heat and electricity bills.

The organization works with 39 different partner agencies to help vulnerable Michigan residents, and reached nearly 18,000 households in 2019.

“THAW is committed to sustainability and providing access to resources. We provide educational resources, not just financial support,” explains Raina Baker, THAW’s marketing and communications manager.

“In addition to helping people pay their bills, we also teach them ways to be more energy efficient, with the goal of reducing their energy usage and making their utilities more affordable long-term.”

In partnership with community-based organizations and utility providers, THAW helps households with past due balances on water, gas, electricity, and fuel deliverables such as wood and propane.

“We approach our work holistically. We assist families with bill payments because access to water, gas and electricity impacts other areas of life, including health and safety,” says Baker.

More than 70% of the households helped by THAW include children or seniors—populations that are especially vulnerable to the cold.

“When you think about kids having to go to school when they’ve been cold all night or don’t have running water—that impacts their learning and behaviors. When we can provide support, it helps create a better ecosystem and greater community for all of us,” she says.

Each year, more than a million Michigan families are eligible for THAW assistance. In addition to the ongoing programs, the organization recently introduced the Front Line Energy Program specifically for essential workers.

“Our mission is about providing assistance to vulnerable Michigan residents, and right now, essential workers are vulnerable,” says Baker.

Enbridge is committed to improving quality of life in the communities near our operational footprint. To battle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re accelerating funds to provide relief to those who are most vulnerable—people who depend on food banks, social service agencies, mental health organizations, first responders and healthcare providers.

As part of this effort, we recently contributed $40,000 to the Front Line Energy Program, with THAW continuing to raise additional matching funds, as the organization has seen more than 1,000 applications for assistance—more than can be funded right now.

“There are front-line workers who are not just medical professionals, but grocery clerks, delivery people and truck drivers who are out in the community, putting themselves at risk,” says Baker.

“I'm very happy to be a part of the Front Line Energy Program—to me, it’s about solidarity. We only get through crises when we support each other, and that's what this program is focused on.”