Every month, accountant Jim Middleswarth dutifully pays his power, water, and gas bills. That’s not too surprising. But what he does next might be.
Not too long after he joined one of the big firms right out of college, James was transferred from Philadelphia to Charlotte in the 1970s. Eventually, he ventured out into his own practice where he continues to serve individuals and small businesses.
He raised two children who filled his office with little momentos of their lives. A tiny clay “Top Cat” has served as a paperweight since his now middle-aged daughter brought it along on an office visit at the age of five. He got involved in church and community and quietly began to support causes that made sense to him. Crisis Assistance Ministry was one of them. He heard the stories of people helped here and, he says, he knew it would help people directly.
But, James says, the 2008 economic downturn caused him to think about his contribution in a new context. Over the years, he says he learned from experience that “stuff happens” and very few people are able to save anything to fall back on when it does.
“I’m just a regular guy, but when I thought about it I realized: Have I ever been hungry and not been able to do something about it? No. Have I ever been shivering cold and not been able to turn on the heat and get warm? No. Have I ever had to wonder where I would sleep at night? No.”
“Of course I have felt hunger, cold, heat, but I’ve always had a way to address those things. So I decided this was what I could do to help.”
After he pays his own utility bills, James matches his total utility costs with one more check to help families at risk of losing essentials like water, heating, and cooling.
At first, he says, he thought he would just do it while the recession lasted. “But, there are still so many people who can use the help. I know where it’s going and I trust how it will be used,” James says. “So, as long as I am able to keep giving, I will.”
It’s an extraordinary gift that has helped countless families get through challenging times.
On their behalf, thank you, James.