December 31, 2018 @ 12:00am

Bankers, Developers, Contractors, and Construction Companies Broaden their Support for KWW/CF/Heat and Housing for Heroes

Commitment of business community continues to inspire

The need for a grassroots effort to help those in need became clear during a bitterly-cold winter in the 1980s.

The awareness of the growing number of people enduring life-threatening situations was amplified by the tragic death of hypothermia of an elderly woman during that winter. Months later, do to her utilities being disconnected at no fault of her own, an elderly and disabled victim also died of heat stroke during the stifling hot summer with no place to turn.

Something needed to be done, and the community acted to assure those most vulnerable during Wisconsin’s harsh seasons wouldn’t face a crisis, like being unable to afford power or heat, alone.

Energy Services Inc. was founded as a survival safety net for those in need of assistance for power or heating, and the initiative has grown to help low-income households across the state during times of need. But programs such as that wouldn’t be possible without the generosity and support of others. Several industries in particular were anxious to lead the charge.

“Instead of looking strictly to government we chose to take a page out of the old Americana playbook and reach out to private and community sectors for support into the next decade. Along with broadening our support with trade labor organizations we enhanced our campaign by enlisting the support of the construction industry, the real estate development community and the financial sector,” said Energy Services, Inc. Tim Bruer.

“We were one of the first locally based non-profit organizations to look to the non government sector in a big way,” Bruer said.

Following the successes of the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, Bruer with many others focused on broadening the KWW/CF and focused on the growing unmet survival needs of veterans in crisis. After unprecedented success within these sectors’s support our charitable mission was expanded into responding to the growing energy and homelessness areas faced by veterans in crisis.

Without a lot of prompting because of the nonprofit’s mission, Bruer received the help and commitment he needed to get KWWCF/Heat and Housing for Heroes off the ground.

Businesses such as Ideal Builders, Findorff, Tri-North Builders, CG Schmidt, MIG Commercial Real Estate, SARA Investments, North Central Group and Hovde Properties have all demonstrated their support along with Park Bank, Oregon Community Bank, Capital Bank, Bank of Wisconsin Dells, and Morgan Stanley-The Phelps Group giving back to those who served and saw an opportunity to do so with the organization.

Ideal Builders, one of the fastest growing construction companies, with its President & CEO, Dave Martin, was one of the first to step forward and generate a significant amount of support for the fund and the KWWCF/Heat and Housing for Heroes initiative. In spite of the tremendous amount of demand on his personal time, Dave Martin has always been available on a moment’s notice to lend a hand. Not only have they been incredibly generous with their financial support but Dave is always the first to offer to actively participate in a number of fundraising activities.

“We’ve been supporters of the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cold Fund for a long time, we feel that’s an important initiative,” Hovde Properties Mike Slavish said of the efforts. “Tim’s done a fantastic job leveraging those funds and finding a way to give them to vets in need of that assistance.”

For Slavish, the military is especially near and dear to him. Both his father and grandfather served in the military, and he wanted to help in any way possible. He mobilizes Hovde Properties to support KWWCF/Heat and Housing for Heroes’ annual golf outing and also offers other resources wherever needed.

“It’s always been an important initiative for me,” Slavish said. “I think we as citizens have an obligation to take care of those who help defend our freedom.”

The same rang true for SARA Investment Real Estate President and CEO Eric Schwartz. While he doesn’t have any direct military affiliation, the mission inspired him to support the cause.

If you help protect this country and you’re left in a situation where you have no heat in your home, I can’t imagine a more desperate and more bizarre situation for our veterans,” Schwartz said. “You put your life on the line to protect our families and you end up not having heat in the winter.”

With various veterans’ initiatives already existing, it was the results that mattered to Schwartz. He became fully committed upon seeing the organization’s successes of helping those veterans in need.

“This one is especially important because it helps serve the veterans of our state,” he said. “I’ve heard from many commanders that Wisconsin’s veterans are a cut above the rest, and we need to protect those folks at the end of the day, because they protected us.”

Tri-North is in its first year of involvement with the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund and the Heat and Housing for Heroes campaign. Vice President Anna Stern said the company gained inspiration through its client, North Central Group, and it was immediately obvious that their vision aligned with KWWCF/Heat and Housing for Heroes’.

“We are truly inspired by the far-reaching impact of this fund and initiative across our state,” Stern said. “We are moved to continue growing our support for the initiative and our relationship with the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund.” While new supporters of the cause, Tri-North saw the incredible backing from the business community and were “honored” to help out in any way. The company was a Grand Slam sponsor at this past summer’s golf outing.

“We are eager to continue finding ways to support these great initiatives,” Stern said. “What was most impressive to our team about (the golf outing) was the overwhelming show of support for veterans and other vulnerable populations facing energy-related crises or homelessness across Wisconsin.

“Frankly, we were blown away by what we all achieved together with this year’s fundraiser and we are honored to continue our support in future programming.”

While aiding KWWCF/Heat and Housing for Heroes’ cause financially is one thing, the genuine enthusiasm shown through attendance at outreach events like the annual golf outing drive home the relationship, Bruer said.

“We’ve been greatly impacted by their generosity and involvement,” he said. “Hopefully with their growth and expanded involvement, especially from their employees, interest and participation, in years to come they will undoubtably be leading efforts, hopefully, to provide the gift of warmth to tens of thousands of victims of poverty right in our backyard.”

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