Chanel Rhoads-Reed, Senior Community Relations Specialist
The Community Affairs team is committed to the communities we serve. Throughout the year the team engages in at least one volunteer outreach effort each month. Whether it’s digging a ditch (literally), laying mulch, packing food at a food bank, or painting a school, no task is ever too small or too big for our team.
Volunteering in the community brings me great joy knowing I am helping others. There is no greater reward than giving back.
The team has volunteered at several Maryland based organizations including Real Food Farm with Civic Works. Real Food Farm is Civic Works’ innovative urban agricultural enterprise engaged in growing fresh produce on six acres of land in Clifton Park located in Northeast Baltimore. The organization provides neighborhood access to healthy food, supports local agriculture, organizes hands-on education opportunities for Baltimore students and protects the environment with sustainable farming methods.
This past summer, the team rolled up their sleeves in 90 degree weather to help pack and load over 10,000 pounds of food at the Harford Community Action Agency (HCAA) to be delivered to various agencies that provide food to those in need. HCAA is the designated Community Action Agency that provides programs and services to address the needs of low-income individuals, families and communities in Harford County, MD.
One of the most rewarding volunteer efforts that the team participated in was the 3rd Annual Baer-Athlon at William S. Baer School. The team supported special needs athletes as they completed a walking lap, a biking lap, and a lap around the sprinklers for the Baer-Athon challenge! They offered assistance to the athletes during the races and cheered them on from the sidelines.
Team members make a conscience effort to put aside time from their busy work schedules to make a difference in the community. In addition to the volunteer initiatives, several employees from the Community Affairs team are board members of various Maryland based non-profit organizations. We believe the best way to serve is to be present in the community and lend a helping hand where we can.
For more information on BGE’s commitment to employee volunteers and charitable giving visit www.bge.com/ourcommitments
Faviola Donato-Galindo, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, BGE’s Organization for Latinos at Exelon (OLE) celebrated by giving back to the Latino community. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15. The commemoration coincides with the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate independence days on September 16, 18 and 21, respectively.
Hispanic Heritage Month offers an opportunity to recognize the contributions, accomplishments and the diversity of cultures within the Latino community. Most importantly, it provides a chance for giving back to the community and paying it forward as a symbol of how far Latinos have come and the positive impact they are making in the United States.
Recently, OLE and BGE staff volunteered at the Esperanza Center, filling over 200 backpacks with donated school supplies to give to low-income families. The backpacks will provide these youth with items needed during the school year. The Esperanza Center’s mission is to provide essential resources and compassionate services to immigrants to promote citizenship, health, family unity and community integration. Last year alone, the Esperanza Center provided services to over 6,000 immigrants. Visit the Esperanza Center website to learn more about their services and programs.
This volunteer event at the Esperanza Center is one of many volunteer opportunities that BGE makes available to its employees as a commitment to supporting the communities in which we live and work. In addition, BGE continues to strengthen its support to the Latino community through workforce diversity and inclusion. As such, BGE and parent company, Exelon, offer several Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that support diversity and inclusion and serve as a resource to the corporation and its employees. OLE is one of many ERGs at BGE that supports the company’s effort in achieving strategic business goals such as diversity and inclusion; fostering employee career development; and maintaining a strong presence in the Latino community by leveraging the talent of OLE member employees.
To learn more about BGE’s community outreach plans and events, visit us at www.bge.com/communitycalendar or follow us at twitter.com/mybge or facebook.com/mybge.
Michael Davenport, Manager, Community Affairs
Earlier this month, BGE hosted its first Leaders’ Forum. Over 100 leaders and representatives from regional business, civic, faith, government and healthcare organizations assembled to learn about our operational and community initiatives. The objectives of the forum were to share information on the investments BGE is making to improve service to our customers and communicate our commitment to our communities through employee volunteerism and charitable giving. Also, the forum served as an opportunity for BGE executives to leverage two-way communication on ways the utility can continue to work in partnership with leaders throughout the region.
BGE Chief Executive Officer, Calvin Butler Jr. shared information from a recently released economic impact study prepared by the Economic Alliance Group of Greater Baltimore (EAGB) to demonstrate ways in which BGE is working with the business community and local and state governments to directly and indirectly impact the Central Maryland economy. In addition, BGE executives shared survey data that indicated improving trends in both operational and customer satisfaction metrics. BGE also highlighted employee contributions in volunteerism to nonprofit organizations and its $3.5 million dollars in charitable giving to nonprofit profit organizations throughout its service territory.
The highlight of the forum was the question and answer segment with Calvin Butler Jr., CEO and Stephen Woerner, President and COO where the two responded to questions from the audience and discussed feedback from a brainstorm session earlier in the day. The event was a learning experience for both BGE and our guests as we had an opportunity to engage with a cross-section of leaders representing diverse sectors of our community throughout the region.
Many of the participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to network with other leaders and key stakeholders, learn about BGE’s current and planned initiatives and exchange ideas and provide feedback to the utility. BGE’s Community Affairs team will assess the effectiveness of the forum via a survey to determine the logistics of a future forum.
We would appreciate your feedback and ideas on types of issues BGE should consider addressing at its next Leaders’ Forum. We thank you in advance for your feedback. To learn more about BGE’s community outreach plans and events, visit us at www.bge.com/communitycalendar or follow us at twitter.com/mybge or facebook.com/mybge
Christie D. McMullen, Chief Safety Officer & Vice President, Support Services
There are many safety precautions we can take every day to prevent injuries and protect our personal property and families. However when Mother Nature strikes, it proves how important it is to try to be prepared. With more than 1.2 million customers depending on our electric and natural gas service, storm preparation is one of the most essential measures we take, and just as BGE prepares year-round for potential storm-related power outages, we encourage our customers to prepare as well.
Here are some important tips to consider when preparing for an approaching storm:
- Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
- If you lose power, use flashlights. Do not use candles or kerosene lamps – they can create a fatal safety hazard.
- Develop a family emergency plan that includes alternative arrangements should the need arise to leave your home. Make provisions for special needs of any family member such as the elderly, disabled, medically affected, or infants. If you are dependent on electric-powered medical equipment, you are encouraged to seek alternate arrangements in the event that your electric service is interrupted.
- Keep the following items on hand: fresh batteries, a portable radio flashlights, a manual can opener, matches, a battery-operated or wind-up clock, non-perishable food (canned and dried food), fuses, sterno
- Make a list of emergency phone numbers (including 877.778.2222 to report and outage to BGE) and keep a personal telephone book and one corded phone or cell phone on hand.
- Keep a first-aid kit in your home and one in your car. Don’t forget to include: scissors, tweezers, safety pins, aspirin, eyewash, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
- Keep one gallon of bottled water for each person in the household
- If your home is served by well water, fill a bathtub with water for sanitation use
- Keep cash on hand.
In light of National Preparedness Month, BGE encourages families to learn about emergency preparedness and practice behaviors that will increase your responsiveness in case of natural disasters or extreme weather conditions. Natural disasters can develop gradually or happen quickly with little warning. For this reason, planning for an emergency now can save you and your family much needed time during severe weather conditions. Visit http://www.ready.gov/september for emergency preparedness tips.
Faviola Donato-Galindo, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
I am thrilled to be a part of BGE’s Community Affairs team and to continue the outstanding work with our schools, both in the classroom and beyond. Before joining BGE, I worked for Baltimore City Public Schools, supporting schools’ efforts to engage families and be equal partners in their child’s academic success. While at City Schools, I came to know the importance of continuously involving children and youth in meaningful learning experiences.
Recently, I met with Mr. Curtis Durham, City Schools principal, who shared with me the “Five E’s” learning model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend and Evaluate. Mr. Curtis Durham explained that this model is intended to help students build understanding and knowledge through experiences and ideas; as well as how BGE’s educational offerings could utilize this model as a rubric in the implementation of our programs.
Engage: Peaking students’ interest and making the connection between what they know and what they will learn.
Explore: Providing students with opportunities for inquiry and guiding students through thought-provoking questions.
Explain: Allowing students to find the meaning the topics being explored within their own experiences.
Extend: Letting students apply their new knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the topic and concepts.
Evaluate: Reflecting upon the concepts learned and allowing students to demonstrate their understanding.
BGE’s educational outreach is a unique effort for educating youth about understanding and staying safe around electricity and natural gas. It serves as a platform for schools to introduce energy concepts in a way that enables students to make connections both academically and in everyday life.
Moreover, with the implementation of new academic standards, there is a great drive for our educational programs to create linkages from inside the classroom to practical opportunities in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).
I am looking forward to the journey ahead. I am ready to begin building relationships with schools. Through this effort, my hope is that we can make a broader impact in our community by continuing our commitment to education.
Best wishes to all educators, students and families on the upcoming school year!
Rob Biagiotti, Vice President, Gas Distribution
This week, Maryland’s youth will enter into another promising school year filled with the hopes of continued learning and meaningful interactions with teachers, mentors and peers. Many will be first-timers, including kindergarteners boarding giant yellow school busses; and freshman entering college, some of whom will be the first in their family.
At BGE we recognize the value of education and support programs to encourage students of all ages to work hard and develop skills which will help them contribute to the future growth and success of our society. We encourage and promote innovation and advances in technology, sustainability, and efficiency as we work together to build a stronger community.
Many of our elementary schools are familiar with our presence in classrooms through our safety programs – BGE Wires Down Video Challenge and Captain Mercaptan. Both programs educate children, parents and teachers on the importance of energy safety and allow area schools to earn up to $10,000 toward an enrichment project.
BGE also contributes resources to help students advance their education. Last year we donated $3.5 million, a third of which went to support children and adult education efforts. We recently contributed $2,500 toward The College Bound Foundation in support of their Urban Scholarship Program to help less fortunate high school students secure scholarships and financial aid for college. I’ve had the personal privilege of working closely with the Urban Scholarship Program and witnessing the impact this program and others like it mean to families. In July, my colleagues and I attended the 26th Annual College Bound Scholars’ Luncheon where hundreds of guests came to celebrate those who were awarded scholarships to various universities. These types of programs are critical to ensuring that financial obstacles never impede students from furthering their education – especially if they are willing to work hard.
As we embark on another school year, we want to extend our best wishes to every student pursuing their education goals. It is our hope that you excel in your studies, deepen your life experiences and prepare for a most rewarding future.
Ingrid D. Woods, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
National Night Out (NNO) was introduced by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) 30 years ago in an effort to promote crime prevention, and to establish solidarity among neighborhoods. NNO has grown tremendously and now involves nearly 38 million people and over 16,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canada and military bases worldwide. The event is held every year on the first Tuesday in August.
Right here in Maryland, NNO is also alive and well. On August 5, 2014, BGE participated in four NNO events in its service territory including two in Baltimore City (Greater Mondawmin Committee / Mayor’s Office at Mondawmin Mall and the NorthEast Citizens Patrol at Lake Montebello); one in Baltimore County (sponsored by the Halethorpe Civic League at the Halethorpe Civic Center); and one in Carroll County (Sykesville, MD).
Each event was unique and included a multitude of activities, entertainment, demonstrations and resources. BGE representatives enjoyed the opportunity to visit the various neighborhoods and to interact with individuals and families alike. We provided customers information on our various programs and services including energy conservation, Gas and Electric Safety, information on our Smart Energy Savers Program (Peak Rewards, the Quick Home Energy Check-Up and Home Performance with Energy Star), and Smart Meters. Many customers who visited us at the various events signed up for several of our programs and services on-site.
Between January and July 2014, BGE has participated in nearly 90 community events and presentations throughout our service territory. In addition, employees volunteer countless hours to many organizations and programs to help strengthen the community in which we live, work and play.
Bob Oberle, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Recently BGE’s Community Relations team had the pleasure and privilege of volunteering with Meals on Wheels at their facility and we hope to return soon. BGE has supported Meals on Wheels annually through corporate contributions and volunteerism. For over 50 years, Meals on Wheels has provided nutritious meals to homebound seniors and disabled individuals in Baltimore and counties in the metropolitan area by delivering it right to their doorstep. Meals on Wheels serve people of any age or economic status who are unable to shop for their groceries or prepare their own meals
Supporting Meals on Wheels is part of BGE’s commitment to serving the community to help create a better quality of life where we live, work and serve. We were honored to help Meals on Wheels staff, volunteers and donors provide food, social and emotional support to clients in need. Each hot meal is well-rounded containing a protein, vegetable and starch. An additional cold meal is also provided each day.
Meals on Wheels also provides a number of support services to their clients that can help them maintain their independence in their own home. For example, these include referrals to outside organizations to reduce isolation felt by clients, providing them with volunteer companions or phone pals. Meals on Wheels staff will also notify emergency contacts if a client unexpectedly fails to answer a door, or if any problems are noticed when the client comes to the door. In addition to meal delivery there is also a grocery shopping program, a service that will deliver groceries to homebound clients.
With a staff of 100 and more than 2,500 volunteers, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland delivers 700,000 nutritious meals and offers support services to 3,000 home-bound elderly Marylanders each year. In addition to the staff that cook and prepare the meals, last year, volunteers logged over 86,000 hours packing and delivering the meals. Volunteers also drove over 612,000 miles delivering the meals to their homebound clients- a distance equal to 25 times around the world!
BGE employees serve on the boards of directors of more than 120 non-profit organizations. And last year BGE employees volunteered more than 25,000 hours to different organizations and initiatives to help better the community through our Energy for the Community network.
Ammanuel Moore, Economic Development Manager
Have you ever thought about how much work goes into keeping energy flowing across central Maryland? Routine maintenance, system upgrades and the installation of equipment for customers are important responsibilities shared by our 3,400 employees and hundreds of other businesses across Maryland.
The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB) recently published an economic impact study focusing on BGE’s contributions to Maryland’s economy. The findings, which centered on job sustainability, wages, output and state and local tax generation, showed that BGE is a leading economic driver for the state. We invite you to read the full study.
From purchasing gas pipes, utility poles, and hard hats, to ordering printer cartridges, desk chairs, and janitorial services, BGE spends more than $ 1 billion annually. EAGB found that this translates to nearly 6,000 jobs outside of BGE, nearly $187 million in indirect labor income for Maryland families and more than $800 million dollars added to the local economy
This week, economic development professionals representing hundreds of utilities are gathering for the Utility Economic Development Association Forum
in Chicago. The forum will address ways in which utilities can help support local and regional economies through a myriad of efforts offered through their economic development departments
including supporting businesses with innovative programs, working with government and helping residential customers increase efficiencies to name just a few. BGE will be in attendance to share and learn best practices and bring back ideas to hopefully have a stronger impact on Maryland’s business environment.
As one of Maryland's largest private employers, BGE works with many other businesses in the state, but our economic impact goes beyond just procurement. Our energy management programs and smart grid enhancements help business and residential customers conserve energy and increase efficiencies leading to reduced energy consumption and costs. In fact, through reduced energy consumption and incentive, rebate and bill credit programs, BGE customers saved more than $79 million in 2013. When invested or spent in the local economy, these savings increase productivity, promote job support, and create a thriving economic environment.
With so many businesses and households depending on our service, we recognize that a strong economy is critical to allowing customers to meet their energy needs. We also realize our success as a company is not one dimensional. We are inextricably tied to the well-being of the communities we serve and have a responsibility to give back. As such, BGE believes strongly in corporate citizenship – partnering with the communities we serve through the support of hundreds of non-profit organizations. Last year, through Exelon shareholder funded contributions, we gave $3.5 million dollars to local charities; additionally, our employees provided more than 25,000 community service hours.
On June 17, 2016, BGE will turn 200 years old. As the oldest gas utility in the country and one of Maryland's longest-running businesses, we remain committed to providing our customers with safe and reliable electric and natural gas service. We're also just as committed to working with the business community, assisting our customers to help them maximize their energy savings and applying our resources to help strengthen Maryland’s economy and its communities.
Jasmine Harley, Social Media Intern
As the conditions of the environment and our economy become more challenged, the automotive industry is adapting and providing innovative solutions -- alternative fuel vehicles.
Alternative fuel vehicles vary in the energy they use, the way they save energy and how much they save. All electric vehicles, not to be confused with hybrid vehicles, have the biggest impact regarding energy use and environmental benefits. As electric vehicles become more adopted by everyday consumers, manufacturers are making more options available for commercial vehicle operators who can also see the potential for this rising technology.
For decades, all-electric mass transit has been a part of most major metro areas, including street cars, light rails and subways that have helped millions of commuters travel to work and other local destinations. Now with more sophisticated batteries and storage devices, buses are exploring electric alternatives and are already claiming benefits for the companies and the communities they serve.
Recently Protera, a zero-emissions vehicle manufacturing company, came to Baltimore to showcase their all-electric bus technology. My colleagues and I had the pleasure of boarding one of their buses and learning firsthand about how their technology operates and the benefits they provide. From an environmental perspective, electric buses produce zero tailpipe emissions. Transportation is the second largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Department of Transportation. Replacing our conventional buses with electric versions could eliminate a substantial source of greenhouse gases.
An additional benefit is the fact that electric buses are less costly to operate. They have fewer parts than conventional buses, thereby reducing the overall cost of maintenance and service. Although the initial purchasing price is typically more than traditional buses, the cost is usually offset by low maintenance and fuel cost savings. Furthermore, the lower weight all-electric buses will decrease the amount of damage done to roads caused by public transportation. Less road damage means less tax money spent on road repairs and less potential damage done to other vehicles on the road.
While electric buses have several potential benefits to offer communities, there are some questions with how to integrate this technology into current transportation systems. A primary concern is the buses charging system and average range. Considering that most transit systems run twelve hours a day it can be viewed as a challenge to keep an electric bus running between charges. This challenge could require an installation of multiple charging devices throughout the community, to ensure buses stay charged and operating efficiently. Installing and maintaining the charging devices, which is currently being proposed at strategically located bus stops, would be an additional cost to the transit agency. Despite the cost and implementation concerns, I believe the potential advantages of the electric bus are far greater.
As a BGE intern, I have the privilege of being part of a company that works with customers and employees to better manage energy usage. Whether it’s how energy is used in our homes and offices or how energy is used to get to our destinations, we all have a role in ensuring efficient use of energy. However you decide to travel, I hope it’s safe and efficient.
We love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind our blog policy