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THAW offers hand up with energy bills, not a handout

Mark Lane likes it when he hears people say they hope never to see him again.

Lane is the director of communications for THAW — The Heat and Warmth fund — a nonprofit dedicated to paying the utility bills of those in need, as long as their income qualifies at 150 percent or less of the poverty rate.

When Lane hears those words, it means THAW has done its job — and 80 percent of the time, it holds true.

“They need a hand up, not a handout,” Lane said.

In the nonprofit’s more than 30 years in Michigan, it has distributed more than $160 million to help more than 223,000 households. Last year, the fund contributed more than $16 million in utility assistance to more than 23,000 homes.

Many of those houses, however, are in Southeast Michigan, and Lane and COO Matthew Phillips were in Grand Rapids last week to help further establish THAW’s roots in West Michigan.