Strength from Coming Together

Kevin McCuskerBy Kevin McCusker, Manager of Community Affairs

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, opportunities to help those in need abound. While families gather around the holidays and communities come together to find strength from each other, we are cognizant of the fact that Cal Water’s strength comes from being part of the communities we have proudly served for more than 90 years. Our employees, customers, and neighbors represent the backbone of our communities, and we remain committed to enhancing the lives of those we serve—not only meeting the daily needs of our neighborhoods, but investing in their futures so they thrive long-term.

With pandemic restrictions easing this year, we were able to jump back into our communities—in person—with a helping hand. Throughout the year, we partnered with local nonprofit organizations that share our commitment to strengthen the 100+ communities we call home. Together, we rolled up our sleeves and laced up our running shoes to raise money, deliver food and donations to customers in need, and support at-risk youth.

The past year has also brought uncertainty to many of our customers’ doorsteps. Inflation, rising energy costs, and other issues have reshaped daily decisions as families cut back and make do with less. The strain of this economic uncertainty weighs heavier as the holidays draw near, and what should feel like a season of joy can become a time of stress. Throughout our districts, we have tried to help ease that strain by providing more than just necessities, but also a source of positivity, through events like the Los Altos Gift of Hope and San Mateo PAL Holiday Giving. At Christmas in Closter Park, more than 7,200 people joined together in Salinas to give back to their communities—donating 52 already decorated trees to families in need and over 1,100 toys to underserved children. In East Los Angeles, we again joined forces with the California Highway Patrol for its annual CHiPs for Kids toy drive, collecting holiday presents for underserved children in the community. And in King City, our partnership with Supervisor Chris Lopez brought Santa in on a helicopter to feed and give toys to low-income families.

While our employees and customers make our communities better places today, students represent our future. We think it’s critical to ensure that our next generation of leaders has every opportunity to obtain higher education. This year, we were proud to provide $80,000 in college scholarships to 12 students who showed dedication to their communities and outstanding academic achievement.

Beyond our customers and their students, we remain committed to those who protect us every day. As California’s wildfires stretch beyond the bounds of the traditional season year after year, our brave firefighters often lack the resources needed to confront these record-breaking blazes. Through our annual Firefighter Grant Program, we have the honor of helping our first responders. Since 2019, we have nearly tripled our annual giving, this year awarding almost $186,000 in grants to seven local fire departments. These grants will fund the latest gear and life-saving equipment, such as an AI-driven autonomous flight engine, so our firefighters have the tools they need to protect themselves as they protect us all.

Whether in joyous or challenging times, we are committed to providing a life-sustaining service, keeping our communities safe, and supporting those in need.