Friday, May 29, 2020

#FridayGiving: Employee volunteers support communities during health crisis ‘We just felt the need to help’

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the resources of local communities and social services organizations. Despite the challenges involved, many We Energies employees have found ways to help out and volunteer safely from their own homes.

Some employees and their family members have assembled face masks to address local shortages. In the Milwaukee area, Donna Olson, senior IT infrastructure consultant, and Ellen Dizard, attorney, participated in #MaskUpMKE, a United Way-supported project that drew over 1,300 community volunteers and produced over 1 million masks for local agencies. Others have donated masks directly to healthcare workers.

“I've made dozens of masks for Children’s Hospital, Froedtert Hospital, and for nurses and CNA friends that requested them,” said Mary Wolter, director — gas regulatory planning policy. “I had some fun with the fabric choices. Most popular were the patriotic ones!” 

Ear savers crocheted by Melodie Falek.

To help people wear masks more comfortably, employees also have donated ear savers to hook on to the elastic straps. Jacob Spencer, designer, has 3D-printed them, while Melodie Falek, office assistant, has been crocheting them for medical professionals and other first responders. 

Employees are addressing other community needs, as well. Mary Brooks, office assistant, has volunteered at the St. Catherine Food Pantry in Milwaukee, and Matthew Gertsch, contractor, has made an extra effort to donate blood at a time when the American Red Cross is facing shortages.

Carol O’Leary, specialist III, worked to establish an urban farm to benefit MacCanon Brown Sanctuary, a food pantry and homeless shelter in Milwaukee. 

Volunteers planting peppers and tomatoes at the urban farm Carol O'Leary supported.

In addition to volunteering, many employees have contributed to local organizations and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“Since my husband and I are both still working, we decided to put our stimulus checks to work helping others,” said Cindy Gaffney, IT Service Desk representative, who has donated to restaurants and hair stylists, as well as faith organizations and the Hunger Task Force. “Sure, we could use it on bills or projects around the house, but others are not working, and we just felt the need to help.”

We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) — part of the WEC Energy Group family of companies — are contributing $1 million through their charitable foundations to help communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include donations to local United Ways, hospitals, domestic violence shelters, food pantries, youth programs and other organizations on the front lines. For more information about current volunteer needs in your community, visit your local United Way website or search for opportunities.

Friday, May 22, 2020

#FridayGiving: Employees support UPAF during a critical time of need

The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) ensures that everyone has access to the arts, and now more than ever, they need our help. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on performing arts groups across the community — forcing them to cancel performances and in-person arts education.

This month, hundreds of We Energies employees pledged part of their paychecks to support this incredible organization, totaling more than $160,000. The We Energies Foundation will match those donations.

We Energies has a long history with UPAF. Over the past 20 years, our employees have donated almost $2 million through annual workplace giving campaigns.

We’re proud to play our part, but the need is still great. Fourteen UPAF member groups are projecting an $8.3 million loss due to canceled performances and fundraisers. Thirty-five percent of employees at UPAF organizations are furloughed, laid off or taking a cut in pay and more than 60,000 kids will not receive in-person arts education programming.

If you’d like to help, please visit!/donation/checkout/

Since the early 1980s, We Energies has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in communities across the state.

Read more about our yearlong effort to highlight some of the incredible organizations we support here

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any #FridayGiving posts.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

‘Cream Puff,’ ‘Bubbler’ and ‘Kringle’ top voting in peregrine falcon naming contest

We asked you to name our peregrine falcon chicks after your favorite things about Wisconsin, and now that the results are in, we’re sensing a pattern. Six of the top eight names are food and drink related! But it’s no surprise that Wisconsin is known for some tasty treats.

With almost 12,000 votes cast, the winners of this year’s contest are:

  •         Cream Puff, in honor of a State Fair tradition.
  •         Bubbler, in honor of Wisconsin’s fresh water.
  •         Kringle, in honor of Wisconsin’s favorite pastry.
  •         Scoop, in honor of delicious Wisconsin custard.
  •         Brandy, in honor of the official state cocktail.
  •         Tundra, in honor of the state’s longest season.
  •         Blaze, in honor of blaze orange and pink worn by Wisconsin hunters.
  •         Hoppy, in honor of the state’s many breweries.

We’ll be using these names for the eight peregrine falcon chicks born at We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) power plants this spring.

Even though voting is done, you can still watch the chicks on our live cameras as they continue to grow. They won’t leave the nest for a few more weeks.

Peregrine falcon program
We Energies and WPS are honored to be a part of a statewide effort to restore the peregrine falcon population. The Department of Natural Resources added peregrine falcons to Wisconsin’s endangered species list in the 1970s.

Since our first successful nest box in the mid-’90s, 402 peregrine falcons have hatched at our facilities. The falcons are drawn to tall structures along Lake Michigan or major rivers, which make many of the We Energies and WPS facilities ideal nesting sites.

This program is another way We Energies and WPS demonstrate environmental stewardship. From helping endangered animals and restoring natural habitats, to building new solar facilities and reducing carbon emissions, we are committed to a cleaner future.

Friday, May 15, 2020

#FridayGiving: Ronald McDonald House makes sure children have a place to stay

In the 36 years since it opened, the Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee has provided more than 45,000 families with a place to stay when children seek medical care at nearby hospitals. Its incredible mission continues despite the COVID-19 outbreak, and We Energies is proud to support the Ronald McDonald House as it navigates these difficult times.

The Ronald McDonald House offers young patients and their families a place to call home at little or no cost. The organization will never turn a family away because they are unable to pay, but it costs almost $130 to house a family for just one night. The average stay is one week.

Normally, a team of over 550 volunteers help a dedicated staff do whatever they can to make a family’s stay a little easier. But because of the pandemic, volunteer services have been suspended, and the full-time staff is taking turns working in the house or remotely each week.

Recently, the We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service foundations pledged $1 million to help communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ronald McDonald House is one of the many nonprofit organizations receiving some of that emergency funding.

If you’d like to help the Ronald McDonald House, please visit

Since the early 1980s, We Energies has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in communities across the state.

Read more about our yearlong effort to highlight some of the incredible organizations we support here.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any #FridayGiving posts.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

We Energies fills unique role in supporting raptor’s population recovery

This year’s peregrine falcon families aren’t the only feathered friends that will benefit from We Energies-provided nesting areas. Employees from We Energies joined representatives from the Harrison Athletic Association (HAA) to install an osprey nest platform near Menasha, Wisconsin, Feb. 24. American Transmission Co. (ATC) donated the platform, MJ Electric provided the used power pole (from an ATC project), and We Energies provided the labor and equipment to install the pole and platform.

We Energies crew digs the hole where the used light pole and nest platform will be located

We Energies employee Steve Nissen, approached HAA about partnering with We Energies to install a platform after the pair of ospreys that had been nesting at the Harrison Athletic Field lost their nest last year.

“There is a pair of ospreys that have been nesting on top of one of the softball diamond light poles for about six years,” explained Nissen, who has been an umpire for the HAA for the past 10 years. “Last summer, the high winds blew the nest down, and one of the chicks was lost. The ospreys tried rebuilding on that same light pole and another light pole with little success.”

The new platform is approximately 200 feet behind the softball field, providing a safer and less threatening environment for the birds, which would often protect their chicks by dive-bombing players on the field. The osprey pair was expected to return to the area separately between late March and early April, and Nissen spotted one osprey in the nest April 7. “Ninety-five percent of the time, ospreys will use a nesting platform that is provided,” he said. 

Since 1980, We Energies field crews have constructed and erected alternative nest structures for osprey breeding pairs in key habitat throughout Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, significantly contributing to the recovery of the osprey population. Today there are more than 550 nesting pairs in 58 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, up from fewer than 100 nesting pairs in the northernmost counties in the 1970s.

More information on WEC Energy Group’s osprey recovery efforts

Friday, May 1, 2020

#FridayGiving: We Energies supports Make-A-Wish Wisconsin during unprecedented times

Seven-year-old Shelby wished to meet a unicorn. Seven-year-old Isaac wished to see the northern lights. These are just two of the thousands of wishes that Make-A-Wish Wisconsin has granted to kids in our community battling critical illnesses.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has forced the organization to postpone 100 wishes so far this year, with more to come. But Make-A-Wish Wisconsin is still hard at work granting the wishes they can, and We Energies is proud to support their efforts. 

This past Wednesday, April 29, was World Wish Day, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the very first wish being granted. Currently, there are more than 430 wishes in progress. Now, more than ever, Make-A-Wish Wisconsin needs help to deliver hope to kids in our community. To donate, please visit

Since the early 1980s, We Energies has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in communities across the state.

Read more about our yearlong effort to highlight some of the incredible organizations we support here.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any #FridayGiving posts.