A clean slate … a fresh start … what better way to start the new year, the new decade, than by looking for some good people? Oh wait … I think I see one now!
Meet Michael Esmond, of Gulf Breeze, Florida …Michael is a 73-year-old veteran, owner of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas, a pool installation company. But, Michael wasn’t always so lucky. When Michael opened his utility bill in early December, saw the due date of December 26th, with the standard notice that “supplies may be cut if not paid by then”, suddenly memories flooded back. Michael was remembering a winter in the 1980s when he couldn’t pay his bill, the gas was cut off, and the family had no heat. Says Michael …
“Back in the ’80s I actually lived that. I experienced a time where I had trouble paying bills. And we actually had the gas disconnected. It happened to be one of the coldest winters in history. We had ice and icicles hanging out the window inside the house. I didn’t want anyone else to go through that same thing. … I wanted to do something that I knew would really make a difference for people around Christmas time.”
So, what did Michael do? Well, he contacted Joanne Oliver, the billing supervisor for the Gulf Breeze utility company, and asked her to help him figure out who was likely to have their utilities turned off for non-payment. And then, you can probably guess what Michael Esmond did next …
He paid the past due utility bills for 36 families in Gulf Breeze, spending a total of $4,558! Okay, so it’s not billions, but Michael doesn’t have billions … he doesn’t even have millions. But what he does have is a huge heart and enough money to help others stay warm this winter.
Instead of receiving a disconnect notice, those 36 families received a Christmas card with a note that read:
“It is our honor and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas. You can rest easier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay. On behalf of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas we here at the City of Gulf Breeze would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season.”
Joanne Oliver was overwhelmed by Michael’s generosity …
“It made me cry. It made me cry. For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me. I’ve been in the customer service industry for a little over 20 years. Never have I seen this type of generosity come from anyone.”
And, as we have seen numerous times before, one good deed led to others who have been calling the utility company to see how they could help. My hat is off to Mr. Michael Esmond for being one of Filosofa’s first good people of 2020!
The next good person is … well, I really cannot tell you his name, for he wishes to remain anonymous, but I can tell you that he is a good person. We can only refer to him as ‘Secret Santa’, and he apparently lives somewhere in eastern Idaho. Let me show you just a few of the things he has done for the people in the region this Christmas season …
- Abby Toone lost her husband, 37-year-old Jon, in September after he was stung by three wasps. Jon, who was in the U.S. Army Reserve, collapsed and died in his wife’s arms. Now, their family is coping with the loss. The mom of four has been struggling to make ends meet as she awaits the settlement from her husband’s life insurance policy. The East Idaho Secret Santa heard of Abby’s struggles and sent her a check for $10,000 to help her until the insurance settlement comes through.
- Nikkie Schwemmer supports three children on her own in a house that needs multiple repairs and is without a car to get to work since hers died and couldn’t be resurrected. She had been borrowing her parents’ vehicle because she couldn’t afford to buy another. Secret Santa had a brand-new blueberry-colored Subaru delivered to her.
- It’s not been an easy year for the Weber family. The number of children in their Idaho home roughly doubled after tragedy hit them not once, but twice. Dan and Lana Weber have five children of their own. Late last year Lana’s brother, Darin Hammond, took his own life. In April, his widow, Emilia, ended her life, orphaning their four children — Symphony, Gavin, Halle and Eva. The Webers, without a second thought, took in their nieces and nephew. Now they are looking after nine children in their Madison County home. Secret Santa sent them a check for $10,000.
- When he was 14, Brad Crow was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Since then, to fight the disease, Brad has undergone radiation, chemotherapy and had the bone in one leg removed and replaced with cadaver bone. Now married and the father of 2, he and his wife Erica decided to build their own home. But disaster struck, and Brad fractured his leg while building. The injury eventually progressed and he needed to have surgery to replace the bone. Even though he was recovering well, he developed a staph infection and began fighting for his life soon after. Brad had that leg amputated this spring and a hip replaced shortly after, and is now facing another hip replacement. Long story short, Brad has not been able to work for more than a year now, and Erica’s pay from her school bus driving job just isn’t enough to cover everything. Secret Santa surprised them with health insurance coverage for a year, and a check for $50,000 to go toward building their home.
And the stories go on and on and on. For the past five years, starting in 2015, this anonymous Secret Santa has enlisted EastIdahoNews.com to help find people and families living in eastern Idaho who are in need. Secret Santa is a real person who wants to remain anonymous and wants to help as many people as he can. In October of each year, the media outlet puts out the call for people to send nominations for people they know of who are in need of financial help. The Secret Santa then chooses those he deems most in need and does what needs to be done to help them. Sometimes it’s something as simple as paying for a veteran’s meal, other times it might be a car or a sizeable check. In total, Secret Santa spends $500,000 … yes, a half-million dollars … each year helping people in eastern Idaho.
Wow … just wow. Check out some more of the stories of the people Secret Santa has helped this year
Well, folks, that’s only two good people to start out the year, but I think both Michael Esmond and the Secret Santa are most deserving of being the stars of Filosofa’s first Good People Doing Good Things of 2020, don’t you? Until next week, then, remember … let’s all try to find a way to be one of those good people. We cannot all give away thousands of dollars, but maybe we can help carry someone’s groceries into their house, or take somebody somewhere, buy someone a meal … there are at least a million ways to be a good people.