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Liberty Utilities Backs Organzations' Relief Efforts

MASSENA, NY Liberty Utilities - New York announced Tuesday it is donating nearly $9,000 to three organizations in the region that are playing critical roles in assist community members struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liberty Utilities- NY Vice President and General Manager Mark Saltsman said Liberty's parent company made a major commitment to support the communities it serves in the United States and Canada, and the donations announced on Tuesday are part of that corporate effort.

"These funds will help local agencies that provide utility bill assistance, and charities that support our customers and communities with hardships caused by this public health emergency. It is even more meaningful because our employees had an opportunity to help choose the local charities we are serving with this funding," Saltsman said.

The recipients of the funding are:

· Ministries in the North Country: $4,866

· Salvation Army, Massena: $2,000

· Ogdensburg Boys & Girls Club, $2,000

"Liberty Utilities takes a local, responsive, and caring approach in every community we serve. Our customers’ issues are our issues — our frontline people live them every day, and there is no better time to demonstrate that commitment to our community than today," he added.

"We are blessed to have so many volunteers and non-profit agencies working to help those in need, and these three donations are just a token of appreciation for the work that is being done by so many in the North Country," Saltsman pointed out.

Ministries in the North Country, an ecumenical ministry of the Presbytery of the North Country covers five counties Lake Champlain to from Lake Ontario.

MINC provides a variety of services ranging from rural housing rehabilitation to assisting families and individuals whose emergency needs cannot be met by existing government and non-profit organizations. The agency plays an important role during the winter months helping families with heating emergencies, pending utility shutoffs and prescription copays.

Rachel Robert, outreach worker for MINC, said the timing of the donation is extremely helpful.

“The churches in the presbytery are quite generous. They made us one of their two mission priorities for the year, but the challenges of the past few weeks mean they have to be a little more cautious,” Robert said.

“I see this becoming a bigger issue as it stretches into the summer and fall. All of the money from this donation will will be used to assist our clients with utility needs,” she added.

Major Bob Bender said the Salvation Army in Massena has seen a dramatic increase in need over the past six weeks.

“My wife and I moved to Massena in July 2019. We have assisted more people over the past five or six weeks than we have had in all of the previous months combined since we got here,” he noted.

He said the agency had been distributing an average of 30 boxes of food a month before the pandemic, but now they are distributing approximately 30 boxes a day during their twice-a-week food distribution events, Major Bender said.

“We’re in pretty good shape with food and supplies right now, but my worries are down the road. Once this is over, people are going to have bills come due, and they won’t have money because they haven’t been working,” he noted.

Major Bender said he will use the Liberty Utilities donation to assist local residents in the next phase of the struggle, and he said he was deeply grateful for the support from Liberty’s employees. “This is a huge shot in the arm for us,” he said.

The Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club (OBGC) is typically filled with hundreds of youngsters enjoying snacks, working on homework and playing sports in the gymnasium. But that all ended in mid-March when schools and recreational facilities were closed.

OBGC Executive Director Tom Luckie said his agency quickly pivoted to serve its community in new and different ways.

He said the Boys and Girls Club staff and volunteers have partnered with the Ogdensburg City School District to assist in the school’s food distribution program.

“We’re trying to serve about 150 kids and 50 families. We’re also providing bags of groceries for the weekends, oral and sanitary packages as well as giving our kids arts and crafts supplies and posting activities on social media. We’re really trying to take care of the most needy families in our community,” Luckie stressed.

He pointed out facilities like the Boys and Girls Club will be part of the final phase of the re-opening New York plan.

“We really don’t know how long this is going to go on,” Luckie said. “This donation from Liberty Utilities will absolutely help us tremendously.”

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About Liberty Utilities Co.

Liberty Utilities is a regulated water, natural gas and electric transmission and distribution utility, delivering responsive and reliable essential services to nearly 800,000 customers across the United States.

With a local approach to management, service and support, Liberty Utilities delivers efficient, dependable services to meet customer needs.

Liberty Utilities provides a superior customer experience through locally focused conservation and energy efficiency initiatives, and programs for businesses and residential customers. Performance is measured in terms of service reliability, an enjoyable customer experience, and an unconditional dedication to public and workplace safety.

Liberty Utilities currently operates in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Massachusetts, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New York and Texas. In NY, Liberty Utilities provides services to 16,000 natural gas distribution customers.

For more information, visit www.libertyutilities.com

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