Once homeless man pays utility bills for 36 struggling families

Back in the 80s, Michael Esmond lost his job and ended up with his power off for the entire winter. It was cold that year in northern Florida, with temperatures dipping down into the single digits. Michael says he thought of that winter when he got his utility bill a few weeks ago, which is due on December 26th.

He contacted Gulf Breeze Utilities to see who in his community needed help paying their utility bill and found out 36 families in Gulf Breeze were on the verge of having their service disconnected. So Michael, who owns Gulf Breeze Pools & Spa near Pensacola, paid $4,600 to give them “a happier Christmas and take a little bit of stress off.”

Joanne Oliver, Gulf Breeze's utility billing supervisor says; "It made me cry. For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me."

Families used to receiving warnings from the city ended up receiving holiday cards 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."

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