It’s been a busy year at the EERC. While our dedicated staff is always working to advance and improve America’s energy future, employees are also actively engaged in helping those in our community as well.
The EERC’s Social Cause Committee worked with the Grand Forks Northlands Rescue Mission Backpack Program and St. Joseph’s Social Care Free Summer Lunch Program to provide food for children in need in our community in 2018. The Backpack Program is committed to ending hunger in our community. During the school year, over 600 children each week receive a grocery bag filled with two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks, and two beverages. Children who do not have enough to eat are able to have food throughout the weekend because of this program and those who invest in it. It costs approximately $1400 to cover a weekend of food for the children in the community. The Social Cause Committee organized fundraisers throughout the year to cover this. Through “penny wars,” raffle ticket sales, bake sales, and other fundraisers coordinated by the Social Cause Committee, the EERC raised $12,382 in 2018! In the summer months, EERC staff helped serve over 700 meals to children through the Free Summer Lunch Program, committing over 30 volunteer hours.
“I’m continually impressed by my coworkers’ willingness to volunteer and help,” said Ryan Klapperich, senior hydrogeologist and EERC Social Cause Committee Member. Klapperich organized the delivery of the food totes for the Backpack Program during the school year. “The key to making these deliveries work was acquiring commitments from multiple individuals to serve as drivers throughout the school year. I asked for help, and five individuals made the commitment to be a driver with very little additional encouragement on my part. On top of that, many other volunteers have stepped in to help the drivers with making the deliveries. Everyone’s commitment has allowed us to turn a big weekly job for Mission staff into an occasional task for individual EERC volunteers by sharing the effort. It’s all worked out better than I could have hoped.”
A highlight of the fundraisers was the “31 Days of Giving” raffle, held in March. Over $8000 worth of prizes were donated by EERC employees and area businesses. The raffle had daily drawings for prizes and raised over $7500 for the Backpack Program.
EERC Social Cause Committee Cochairs Janelle Ensrud and Michelle Olderbak led the initiatives throughout the year and coordinated volunteer opportunities for EERC staff. Of their colleagues, Ensrud and Olderbak said, “The generosity of the EERC family is truly humbling and never-ending. We are so happy to be part of such an amazing team.”
In addition to the Social Cause activities, the EERC also just wrapped up the 18th year of the “Adopt a Family” program over the holiday season, where employees shop for gifts on a family’s wish list. This event helps provide school supplies, winter clothing, Christmas presents, and food and gas cards for families in need. This Grand Forks School District program was initiated to help the increasing number of families who fall through the cracks in the system. These are working parents who are unable to make ends meet or children who have been separated from their parents and are living with relatives, all in the greater Grand Forks area.