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Small business owner pays it forward by paying overdue utility bills for 36 families over the holidays

5 Things you need to know:

  1. Mike Esmond of Gulf Breeze, Florida paid power bills for 36 families.
  2. Mike once had the heat turned off at Christmas in 1983 on himself and his 3 daughters.
  3. He wanted to give back, so he asked the city and was given a list of families with overdue accounts with charges totaling $4,600 USD.
  4. The families received holiday cards instead of warnings from the city
  5. Mike is a war veteran and small business owner in the same town.

Watch the Video:

Click here for the YouTube video link.

3 Quotes to think about:

Quote #1:

Esmond told CNN about how his utility bill, due just after Christmas, reminded him of his own financial struggles over 30 years ago:

Esmond, who owns Gulf Breeze Pools & Spa near Pensacola, told CNN he spent $4,600 to give his neighbors “a happier Christmas and take a little bit of stress out.”

… “I actually lived that back in the 1980s,” he said. “I experienced the same thing, having trouble paying bills. My gas was shut off, and we had no heating for the whole winter.”

SOURCE: Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN

Quote #2:

Angela Cascio has four kids – the youngest is only 7 years old and the oldest is 17. Cascio was struggling to pay the bills as well as find gifts for Christmas.

Pensacola News Journal wrote about Cascio’s stunned reaction:

Without (Gulf Breeze Pools) paying that bill, my kids’ Christmases would have greatly suffered,” Cascio told the News Journal in a Facebook message on Monday. “Angels absolutely walk among us, and they are the epitome of kindness and what ‘paying it forward’ means to me.”

… “My kids are old enough that they see their mom struggle to make ends meet,” she said. “They saw me burst into tears when I read the card that Gulf Breeze Pools sent to me. I am forever grateful.”

SOURCE: Annie Blanks, Pensacola News Journal

Quote #3:

The city sent out holiday cards that read as follows:

It is our honor and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas. You can rest earlier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay. On behalf of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas we here at the City of Gulf Breeze would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season.

SOURCE: Danielle Apolinar, WEAR

Danielle Apoliniar is a multimedia journalist who wrote the article for WEAR. She also tweeted a photo of the Gulf Breeze man who paid for the 36 families’ utility bills as well as the holiday cards that were sent out:

Citizenship Mini-Lesson

There is a difference between being a citizen, and an ideal citizen. (In the same way as there is a difference between being a student, and an ideal student.)

One strategy to help us become better citizens who give back to our communities is to think about empathy and try to be more empathetic.

Citizenship: Is this empathy? Emapthy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another

One definition of empathy is

Seeing with the eyes of another…

Listening with the ears of another…

Feeling with the heart of another…

Based on that, how would you answer the following questions:  

Citizenship Discussion Questions

  1. Why was the issue of having no heat in winter especially dear to Mike’s heart?
  2. Do you think Mike had an idea ahead of time how much promotion this would be for his business? If so could that have been a factor?
  3. What do you think the short and long term impact of Mike doing this can be?
  4. Is this an example of good citizenship? Why or why not?

Free Lesson Slideshow

Link to resources used in this article:

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