The coronavirus pandemic did not deter Xcel Energy from giving back to the customers and communities we serve. While most of the company’s volunteer projects transitioned to a remote format, employees, contractors, and retirees still volunteered nearly 59,000 hours at more than 800 nonprofits across our service area in 2020.
The company provided a variety of ways to engage volunteers, from creating take-home kits and virtual activities to setting up donation drop-off locations and online donation sites throughout the year.
“I’m blown away by our employees’ generosity this past year,” said Bonnie Gross, Xcel Energy-Colorado’s Social Investments representative. “They stepped up to the challenge and found ways to make a difference while keeping themselves, their families, fellow employees, customers, and community partners safe.”
To celebrate National Volunteer Month this April, the company selected four employees to receive the Good Energy Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer service. This new award will be presented annually.
“These employees exemplify the legacy of community service and volunteerism. The award is given to volunteers who exhibit strong leadership, engagement and have made significant contributions to the success of our Social Investments initiatives,” Gross said. “Without volunteers like them, Day of Service, the United Way campaign, our holiday and school drives and so much more wouldn’t be possible.”
Meet the 2021 Good Energy Award recipients
Eduarte is passionate about organizations that create equity and inclusion. She attributes her passion for giving back to her grandmother, who taught English as Second Language learners at Neighborhood House in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
“My grandma gave me the greatest gift by teaching me two languages while growing up, so I was able to join her at the classes she taught,” Eduarte explains. “She instilled in me the power of giving and taught me the value of things you can’t assign a dollar amount to. I am thankful and proud to belong to a company that is so involved and that gives us ample opportunities to contribute to our community.”
In addition to volunteering as a Day of Service team lead for the Latino Economic Development Center project and participating in the company’s Human Resources Pro Bono Impact Day last year, Eduarte serves on the Board of Directors of Community of Saints Region Catholic School, is a Young Professionals Advisory Board Member for PACER Center, and is as an ambassador for Merrick Community Services.
Lueck’s involvement in 4-H as a child sparked his interest in helping others. On top of serving as the Great Rivers United Way Board Chair and giving back to Mobile Meals, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rotary Lights and La Crosse Jaycees in Wisconsin, he volunteers as a United Way coordinator and Day of Service team lead.
If you are interested in making a difference, Lueck suggested, “First, determine the amount of time you can dedicate to volunteering. Then review your interests and reach out to organizations that support those interests. Whether it’s being a Little League coach to delivering meals to serving on a board, there are many opportunities to serve your community.”
Day of Service introduced Smith to Xcel Energy’s volunteer opportunities seven years ago.
In addition to donating to United Way through the company’s annual campaign and spearheading Xcel Energy’s involvement in the Veteran’s Food Drop in Pueblo, Colorado, he volunteers at his church and Posada, a nonprofit that helps individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Smith said he is grateful for the support of his manager who encourages his team to use the company’s employee giving programs and volunteer days. “For our department, we give because it’s the right thing to do," he said. "It’s great to have those people in my corner when I reach out to volunteer.”
Before joining Xcel Energy 13 years ago, Smith discovered United Way through her job at the Amarillo-Globe News and has continued her support of this organization everywhere she’s been employed. She also volunteers at the Eveline Rivers Christmas project, which provides winter clothing and gifts to income-qualified children.
One of Smith’s most memorable volunteer moments is rappelling down the 188-foot-tall Santa Fe building in downtown Amarillo, Texas, through Family Support Services’ Over the Edge fundraiser in 2019.
“I raised at least $1,000 and used our Matching Gifts program to encourage others to double funds, which raised more than $5,000 for the organization,” she said. “I’m also proud that at 52 years old, I made it down the building in one piece!”
Smith also appreciates the company’s flexible employee giving programs. “What other company would pay you up to 40 hours to volunteer during the workday, match donations up to $2,750 in matching gifts, and match each hour you volunteer up to 100 hours annually?”
Learn more about Xcel Energy's volunteer and giving efforts.