73-Year-Old Man Clears the Electric Bill of 36 Families About To Lose Power during Christmas
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama
In 1983, Florida businessman Michael Esmond spent Christmas with his three little girls in an unheated and unlit home. He couldn’t afford the electric bill and there was nowhere else to go. Just as if fate wanted to punish him further, that year turned out to be one of the coldest winters in Florida.
The memory ran through Esmond’s mind as he received his electric bill last December. Now the proud owner of a successful business in his Gulf Breeze community, he felt nostalgic remembering those horrible nights when he couldn’t afford to heat his home.
“I actually lived that back in the 1980s,” Esmond said to CNN.  “I experienced the same thing, having trouble paying bills. My gas was shut off, and we had no heating for the whole winter. It was one of the coldest winters in Florida; temperature got down to the single digits. That was definitely in my mind when I received the bill this year.”
36 grateful families stayed warm on his account
Esmond is the owner of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spa, a swimming pool construction company based near Pensacola. He has strong ties with everyone in the community where he’s spent most of his life.
“The community has been good to me and I’m trying to give back to the community,” Esmond said.
In a stunning act of generosity, Esmond went to the utility office and cleared the electric bills of 36 families about to be cut off that month.  With the sum of $4,600, dozens of homes were saved from freezing during Christmas. Esmond did a great kindness that will live on in many hearts for a long time. He wasn’t doing it for the recognition and never knew he would make the news. He just didn’t want anyone to go through the pain he’d felt when he hadn’t been able to keep his family warm.
Michael Esmond hasn’t forgotten what it was like having his gas shut off, with no heat for the winter, so the Florida business owner found out who in his community was at risk of having utilities disconnected and paid 36 families’ bills ahead of Christmas https://t.co/FPK7x1l1iM— CNN (@CNN) December 18, 2019
“I got great feedback on my Facebook page and business phone. People were texting me and calling me to thank me for what I had done,” he said.
“It made me cry. It made me cry,” said Joanne Oliver, utility billing supervisor told WEAR TV.  “For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me.”
Greetings over warnings
Thirty-six families were expecting to receive warning notifications to pay their bills or lose power for the holidays. Instead, they received warm greetings and good wishes from the community’s utility office.
Cards were sent to all the beneficiaries of Esmond’s kindness, and they all 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.
What better way to engrave one’s name in the sands of time than to lend a helping hand to people and expect nothing in return? The world needs more generous souls like Esmond.
- “A Florida man who once spent Christmas without gas just paid off the past dues for 36 families at risk of losing their electricity.” CNN. Gianluca Mezzofiore. December 18, 2019.
- “Man Generously Pays Electric Bills For 36 Families About To Lose Power For Christmas. Buzz.Shared. Naveen A. December 19, 2019.
- “Season of giving: Florida man pays 36 families’ utility bills.” Wear TV. Danielle Apolinar. December 17, 2019.
- Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas