A Florida man is paying his good fortune forward by paying off the utility bills of 114 families facing disconnection. Michael Esmond paid the bills of families in his Florida community in 2019 and decided to again this year.
“This year to me probably is more meaningful that last year with the pandemic and all the people out of work having to stay home,” Esmond told CNN. “Hurricane Sallyslammed us pretty good and hurt a lot of people. We still have a lot of the blue roofs here, where they’re just covered with tarps.”
Esmond paid $7,615.40 according to the city’s utility billing supervisor. Holiday cards to residents will be mailed this week notifying them of their bill’s payment. Many families owed less than $100 so Esmond’s money was able to have a wider reach than the 36 families he had helped in 2019.
“That really impacted me — that people can’t even afford to pay a $100 bill on their utilities and things are so bad,” Esmond said. “That’s why I was able to pay for 114 families.” Esmond owns Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas.
Joanne Oliver, the city’s utility billing supervisor, said of Esmond’s gift, “Even though our country and our city is currently going through probably the most difficult years of some of our lifetimes, there are still people out there who are generous and kind and really do want to help others,” Oliver said. “To have others within the community wanting to reach out and help their neighbors, now is more important than ever.”
Esmond’s familiar with the situation and said that in the 1980s his own utilities were shut off. “I can relate to people suffering and not being able to pay bills,” Esmond said. “That’s probably one of the biggest motivators for me, because I’ve been there.”
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