Posts of Author ‘Meredith Hodges‘

9:42 am

Community Partner Spotlight – MUST Ministries

Gas South is committed to supporting the communities we serve through our Gas South Cares program. Through this program, we partner with some of the most effective nonprofit organizations in the state. Gas South would like to feature one of our most enriching partnerships, one that we are proud to work with all year long.

MUST Ministries is a volunteer-driven organization providing a range of services to needy people, from food and clothing to job training. We recently spoke with Don Crampton of MUST Ministries to learn more about the organization.

What is your organization’s mission?   

Serving our neighbors in need; transforming lives and communities in response to the call of Christ.

Why is your organization’s mission important?   

MUST Ministries serves close to 34,000 people in eight north Georgia counties. We’re the largest safety net for the poorest, most desperate residents in this region. MUST helps them meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, and clothing, while also providing longer-term resources, like counseling and training needed for employment.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

The MUST’s Summer Lunch program serves approximately 5,000 children per day in eight counties. In 2014, 254,000 sack lunches reached hungry children in our 19th year of meeting this tremendous need. Thousands of volunteers made sandwiches, packed lunches, checked sacks, drove lunches to sites, contributed supplies, donated money and partnered in a host of ways to be sure children would not go hungry. [If you’re interested in donating your time to the Summer Lunch program, check out this site.]

How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

We are extremely honored to have the support of Gas South for the past five years. Their desire to serve is demonstrated by their actions. Gas South has helped MUST Ministries in all areas, through volunteerism as well as corporate contributions. In particular, Gas South is a sponsor of our two largest fundraising events, the Safe Refuge Gala and the Annual Thanksgiving Day Gobble Jog. Gas South is also a major supporter of our Summer Lunch program and is the lead sponsor for our Step Up Your Game: Getting People Back to Work seminar.

What have Gas South employees done to help MUST Ministries?

Several Gas South employees have volunteered over the years to serve at MUST Ministries. More specifically, Gas South has been one of the lead participants in our employment education area, offering assistance in helping our clients to enhance resume writing skills and prepare for job interviews.

Gas South has worked with MUST Ministries for over five years, and we’d like to encourage you to get involved with the organization. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, click here.

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1:55 pm

Employee Spotlight – Mary Crane Orne

Mary Crane Orne, senior account manager, has been working for Gas South for more than two years. Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Orne is looking forward to the biggest celebration of the year in her hometown on St. Patrick’s Day. With the holiday quickly approaching, we spoke with Orne to learn more about her family traditions surrounding the holiday and the town that hosts the celebration every year.

What are some of the things you and your family do in Savannah to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Growing up, I was in the choir at an all-girls Catholic school, St. Vincent’s Academy, and we would sing a few times each week during the month leading up to St. Patrick’s Day throughout different locations in the city. We sang at various events and for numerous groups – including nursing homes, the airport, restaurants and festivals for the grand marshal. Attending some of the events continues to be a tradition for my family during the weeks leading up to the big day.

The “Greening of the Fountain” ceremony is held the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day in Forsyth Park and the Saturday before the 17th, we attend both the Tybee Island Parade and the Tara Feis Irish Celebration. The celebration is a festival located downtown with Irish dancing, food, crafts and live music.

On the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, my family and I attend mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist for the feast day of Saint Patrick. After mass, everyone in Savannah quickly finds a place on the street to get the best view of the parade. We set up our spot inside Chippewa Square, which is known for the famous park bench scenes from “Forrest Gump.” Once our spot is claimed, we set up tents, tables, chairs and plenty of food and drink for all, and wait patiently for the parade to start!

What do you enjoy most about St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah?

The St. Patrick’s Day parade is a “coming home” for many Savannahians, so I’m looking forward to seeing old friends. I’m also looking forward to seeing the grand marshal, the families of past grand marshals, school groups, bands and other groups in the parade. Once the parade is over, I’ll find a pub – all of which are Irish on March 17th – listen to bagpipers and try my luck at Irish dancing!

What would you tell someone considering a trip to Savannah during St. Patrick’s Day?

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and come ready to have a great time! The city closes down for the celebration and towards River Street it’s a wild party, but away from the river, a lot of families enjoy the festivities together.

One last tip – on St. Patrick’s Day, when someone greets you with the phrase, “Top of the mornin’ to ya’ ” you must respond back saying, “And the rest of the day to you.”

Erin go bragh!

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11:21 am

Community Partner Spotlight – Action Ministries

Action Ministries is a non-profit organization providing a wide range of services to Georgians who have fallen on hard times. By meeting basic needs of hunger relief, housing and education, Action Ministries removes barriers that prevent thousands of Georgians from breaking the cycle of poverty and realizing their potential. We recently spoke with Rebecca Whicker of Action Ministries to learn a bit more about the organization:

 What is your organization’s mission?  

Action Ministries mobilizes communities to address the challenges of poverty by focusing on hunger relief, housing and education.

 Why is your organization’s mission important?   

Georgia has the second largest number of homeless children in the nation, it ranks second highest in the nation in the number of homeless veterans, and it has more than one million children who are food insecure. Last year, Action Ministries was able to serve over 140,000 people with the help of partners and volunteers. We want to break the cycle of poverty and ensure that everyone has the tools they need to reach their full potential.

 Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

Our Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program is an initiative we prepare for year round. We also have our Feed the Hungry Food Box initiative, and we’ve made it easier to get involved. If any of your readers would like to help feed a hungry family they can text FOODBOX to 41444 and donate from their mobile phone. If your readers would like to keep up with the action and receive periodic updates from Action Ministries, they can text ACTIONHERO to 51555.

 How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

Gas South has given its time to support our hunger relief efforts through Smart Lunch, Smart Kid and Feed the Hungry. In the summer of 2014, with the financial and volunteer support, we were able to provide over 219,000 lunches to children in need. Gas South’s financial and volunteer support of our Food Box initiative will help us provide more than 400,000 meals to hungry families over the next few years

What have Gas South employees done to help Action Ministries?

Gas South employees participate in lunch-making events throughout the summer, providing meals to children who receive free and reduced-price lunches during the school year but are at risk of going hungry during the summer break. Gas South employees have also helped pack food boxes at our Feed the Hungry warehouse. We love our Gas South volunteers!

Gas South has worked with Action Ministries since 2012, and we’d like to encourage you to get involved with the organization. For more information on how to volunteer, click here or if you would like to donate, click here.

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9:18 am

Gas South invites a special group of Atlanta-area children to experience The Greatest Show on Earth

Gas South is excited to take over 300 children with special needs and their families to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Legend Circus for a truly magical experience.

This will be Gas South’s sixth year taking children to the circus, and it is always the highlight of my year.

The children and their families will be hosted on the show floor to participate in hands-on activities such as face painting, interacting with circus performers, and dressing up with the clowns. Activities are designed for children with a range of special needs who otherwise may not be able to enjoy the “Greatest Show on Earth.”


 Take a look at the smiles on these kids’ faces at last year’s event


The pre-show activities are designed specifically for children with a range of special needs. Children with hearing impairments will be provided with sign language interpreters for the floor show and circus performance, while the pre-show elements for children with visual impairments will focus on touch and sound experiences. Feld also works with each venue to provide wheelchair access and seating for other mobility devices.


Isaac Afolabi of Duluth gives a thumbs up to Jimmy Burnette, mayor of Suwanee, Ga., at last year’s Magical Journey


We’re grateful to our partners, the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association, the Georgia Municipal Association and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus producer, Feld Entertainment for making these events possible each year.

This event allows the children and their families, who rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the simple thrills of childhood, to take a break from the day-to-day challenges they face and just have fun for a night.


Parents, Todd and Lila Cooperiter of Brookhaven, soak in the moment with son, Colin at last year’s Magical Journey


We hope you can join us for a fun night at the circus!

Gas South customers can save 20 percent on tickets to The Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey® Circus. Click here to check out the offer, and we’ll see you at the circus!

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10:34 am

Employee Spotlight, Military Series – Juawana (Croswell) Glass

This month, Gas South is spotlighting several employees who previously served in the military. We’re proud that these employees, who sacrificed so much to serve our country, have chosen to work at Gas South.

Juawana (Croswell) Glass, Executive Assistant and Human Resources Coordinator, began working for Gas South after serving eight years in the U.S. Navy. Juawana says her military experience helped shape who she is today – as a person, community member and Gas South employee. We sat down with Juawana to learn a bit more about her past.


What was your occupation while in the military? What did that role entail?  

I was a Religious Program Specialist in the Navy. I was responsible for preparing personnel for deployment overseas. Serving our country during times of war can be emotionally taxing, so I helped to prepare soldiers by providing them with counseling and spiritual enrichment services. My job also included administrative duties like accounting and coordinating deployment logistics.


Did you perform any tours of duty during times of war? If so, when and in what capacity?

I served during Operation Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan). My main duty was to protect the Chaplain when we went into the field and on the base during what’s called “complete base lockdown.” Chaplains are non-combatants for religious purposes, so it was up to people like me to provide security.


What was the most memorable moment of your military career?

Enlisting. After I enlisted, every moment while serving my country was an amazing experience. It was a journey that I was destined to take. From the places I traveled to the people I met, every second was memorable.


Do you currently volunteer with any community organizations? If so, what is the organization and what is your role with them?

I volunteer with the Genesis Shelter, which is a homeless shelter for babies under six months of age and their families. I’ve assisted the organization in various roles including serving food, job training and holiday drives.


Has your military past had an influence on your role in the community? If so how? 

Yes, the military broadened my horizons on life and I realized my calling to give back to my community.


Why was serving your country and community important to you?

Serving my country was so important to me because it gave me a sense of pride. I’m proud to say I made a contribution to this country. I honestly miss getting up every day, putting on my uniform, and preparing to protect and serve my community.


How has your military past affected your role at Gas South?

Serving in the military has benefitted me in my role at Gas South. I’m able to utilize most of the skills I developed in the Navy here at the Gas South office.

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1:51 pm

Employee Spotlight – Military Series

Each November, we honor the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces. We are honored to have a number of veterans working here at Gas South.

As a salute to these former soldiers, we’re turning the Gas South blog over to them this month. We’ll be profiling employees who have served in the military, in places as far-flung as Singapore, Iraq and Japan. We’re thankful that these talented, dedicated individuals have decided to plant roots here at Gas South. We appreciate all that they do!


Employees who have served our country are:


LaTitia “Tish” Winbush, Customer Service Representative

Rhonda Garrett, Customer Service Representative

Tiara Allen, Customer Service Representative

Stephon White, Accountant

Air Force

Sandra K. (Mills) Hamilton, Customer Service Representative


Juawana (Croswell) Glass, Executive Assistant and Human Resources Coordinator

Michael Clark Guice, Customer Service Representative


In our continued efforts to celebrate and support our veterans, Gas South also began offering a discount to our customers who are actively serving or have served in the U.S. military. Eligible users can visit our rates page and enter the promo code MILITARY to save 2 cents per therm on their Gas South bill.

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12:35 pm

Can you have it all?

I was asked to speak at a conference this month on work/life balance.  Upon reflection, I recalled a poem from college by Kurt Tucholsky, “Das Ideal.”  In its essence, the poem encapsulates his idea of a perfect life:


“Yeah, you’d like that:

A villa in the countryside with an ample terrace,

faces the Pacific, backs up to Central Park (that’s the idea anyway) …”


Through the poem, Tucholsky paints a picture of the perfect life, one in which you can have it all. His ideal includes beautiful views of the mountains from the bathroom, servants, old wine, lots of money, splendid children, etc.  While the bottles of wine sound pretty good to me at the moment, we all have our own versions of the ideal, don’t we?  Yours likely varies from mine but the concept is the same – we all want to “truly have it all.”

Having it all – a high-paying and fulfilling career, a big family, ample free time to spend doing things you love, enough time with your spouse, caring for your children, and remaining an active member of the community.

Doesn’t having it all sound great? Juggling careers, families, and enough free time to enjoy the pleasures in life … totally doable.

In fact, that’s malarkey.  The “wonder woman” lifestyle, being a full-time career woman, mother, and community volunteer, is highly over-rated (if not impossible).  What is useful, however, are a few tips from someone who’s been around the block a few times and would like to see you get close to your own version of the ideal.

First step:  prioritize.  It took years of ignoring my husband and my therapist before I realized they were right.  You can’t do it all. Everything is not of equal importance.  So, what should you focus on first?  YOU!  If you aren’t healthy (mentally and physically) then you can’t effectively help your kid with homework, attend a reception with your spouse or answer that next darned email that comes right after you finish working through your inbox at 12:30 am.  You need to budget time during the week to take care of yourself – get some exercise, for goodness sake get some quiet time, and do whatever makes you happy.  Your family comes second. That may sound harsh, but if you don’t take care of yourself first then you can’t be there to take care of your family.  Third: let’s talk about work and where you are apt to make the biggest contribution and get the biggest bang for your buck.  Note – keeping an empty email box is not the answer.  Instead, think of the bigger picture. If you could do one thing to make your company better, what would it be?  Spend some time on the important things – the day-to-day issues will be there regardless.

Second step: learn to say “No.”  (PLEASE don’t let my mother read this.)  Yes, she’s right too – you simply can’t say yes to everything.  One must set boundaries.  “Five board positions and a full time job?!” my psychiatrist said to me one day.  “Consider one or two max.”  You can’t be everything to everyone, even though everyone may want you on their team.  Prioritize outside work life too.  Giving back to the community is fantastic as long as it doesn’t mean robbing you of yourself.  I encourage you to find one passion and pursue it with gusto.

Last step:  find out what’s meaningful to your family.  We spend most of our time at work, and the added time for the daily commute, the after-hours emails and the like add on to time away from family.  That means we need to maximize the bang for the buck.  A mentor used to tell me, “Ask your kids what means most to them and then re-ask every year.”  That’s great advice for prioritizing which family activities are the most important.  I might feel bad about missing a practice my child doesn’t care about, but she might love for me to take her to school when that doesn’t really take any extra time out of my day.  Focus on activities that can make the biggest impact on your family.  Ask each family member what means the most to them and see what they say, then try to make that one thing happen.

Kurt Tucholsky was nothing if not an idealist. But what he depicts in his poetry is far from easy to obtain, and in reality we are seldom privy to such luxuries as wealth, servants, and bottomless wine (although we can only hope).  What we can do is focus on what is important and prioritize accordingly.  Work, family, and personal needs all need to find balance in your life. Be prepared to let some things fall off the radar.  And, be okay with your own version of the ideal.

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7:15 pm

Year Up gives young Atlantans a leg up

A recent study found that Atlanta had the worst income mobility in the U.S. and young Atlantans from low-income households have just a 13 percent chance of moving into the top 40 percent of earners.

Fortunately, there is an organization in Atlanta working to improve these odds. Year Up provides young adults with the skills, support and real-world experience they need to close the opportunity divide through internships at local businesses.

This year, two young women interned at Gas South, where they developed the critical job skills they need to join the workforce.

Jomicka Green and Liliana Tapia are Gas South’s first Year Up interns, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.

I believe Year Up training can make candidates a better fit for our company and it helps mitigate the normal hiring risk we see day to day. I wish every young person we hire could go through this class.

While programs like Year Up help companies avoid hiring mistakes, it also gives young adults, who may have a difficult time moving up the economic ladder, the opportunity of a brighter future.

Liliana told me that she had to prioritize and either stay with Year Up and be something or stay with the hostess job and be nothing. She decided she had nothing to lose. I commend Liliana and Jomicka for their determination and tenacity. And we thank Year Up for creating this incredibly successful program!

For more information on Year Up, visit the organization’s website or check out a recent article published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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4:28 pm

Disney on Ice comes to Atlanta

Disney on Ice came to Atlanta and Gas South was excited to partner with Feld Entertainment to provide dozens of local families with special needs children a great night out to enjoy the on-ice extravaganza, featuring all of the favorites like Donald, Mickey and Minnie.

Prior to the show, our guests, who were selected by some of our Alliance partners, were treated to a pizza party and a special meet and greet with the costumed cast. It was the perfect start to a great evening, in which our Disney friends (and villains) skated through sets of winter wonderlands, haunted houses, a royal ball, and a medley of other fairytale scenarios. We hope this special night was a memorable one for the families in attendance and we look forward to next year!

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5:20 pm

Bring the Heat – 2013

The Braves and Gas South present UWGA with $31,000

Velvet Washington with Gas South and Carley Jacobs with the United Way of Greater Atlanta

Few people are called to take to the turf at Turner Field, and those lucky enough are typically Major League Baseball players and officials. There was, however, one notable exception to the rule prior the last regular-season finale between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, Velvet Washington, a Gas South employee.

Velvet was the toast of ‘The Ted’ for a few memorable moments as she presented the United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA) with a hefty $31,000 check from Gas South as part of our Bring the Heat campaign with the Braves.

What’s Bring the Heat? Every time a Braves pitcher records a regular season strikeout, Gas South donates $25 to the UWGA. For the record, the Braves’ regular season strikeout total for 2013 was 1232 (note to all you mathematicians, we rounded our donation up by $200 to make an even $31,000).

Since 2008, Bring the Heat has contributed more than $200,000 to local nonprofits as part of Gas South’s Hometown Value promise to advance the communities in which we live, work and serve. While the campaign is officially over for 2013, Gas South is already looking forward to continuing Bring the Heat next year. Go Braves!

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