Employees of Charlottesville-based Tiger Fuel are used to distributing oil, propane and gasoline, but on June 22, they were distributing goodwill in the community: rebuilding ramps at an Albemarle County residence for a family with mobility challenges.
The work is part of a collaboration between the business and the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program.
That program is a nonprofit group that aims to preserve existing housing in the region through repairs and accessibility modifications.
Tiger Fuel and the program have been partnering for roughly five years and collaborate on two to five projects a year, said Mike Hulbert, operations manager at Tiger Fuel.
The work on June 22 was to increase interior and exterior accessibility ramps at a home in Albemarle County, as well as repair the home’s deck.
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The homeowner reached out to the housing program about a year ago after her son was in a car crash and became a quadriplegic, said development manager Kyle Ramey. The county home improvement program installed handlebars in the bathroom and seats in the shower about a year ago, and then the group returned Thursday with Tiger Fuel to install two ramps: one on the back porch and another from the living room to the kitchen to allow full access in and out of the house.
The summertime is less busy for Tiger Fuel, which means employees are freer to participate in these sorts of community projects while still fulfilling customer needs.
Between the five employees that worked on the June 22 project, there were likely more than 100 years of trade experience, Hulbert said.
Tiger Fuel often helps the housing program with requests for failing heating units, delivering fuel to households during “the worst parts of winter,” Ramey said. With the pandemic still affecting the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program’s volunteer work, Tiger Fuel’s staff has been a “very dependable source” of experienced labor, he said.
When Hulbert arrived at the client’s home on the morning of June 22, Tiger Fuel employees were already cutting wood for one of the ramps and staining the deck alongside one of the housing program’s full-time crew members. Hulbert spoke to the client, who Hulbert said was grateful and overwhelmed with emotion.
“I was very moved,” Hulbert said. And in a moment where “the stars aligned,” they learned her son was a former employee of Tiger Fuel.
Tiger Fuel has provided fuel and heating needs to Charlottesvillians for more than 40 years and regularly partners with nonprofit groups to work on charitable causes, donating almost $10,000 annually to projects such as this. The collaboration with the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program is “one of the better ones,” Hulbert said.
And likewise for the housing program: Although funding and volunteers can wax and wane for the organization, Tiger Fuel is one partnership to count on. “It’s truly just a real blessing to have people like this to turn to at all times,” Ramey said.
“I think that people see energy companies or petroleum companies as just moneymakers, especially when your fuel prices are high,” Hulbert said. “We provide those services, but we also are called to action to make sure we’re good stewards of humanitarianism in our communities. It’s fulfilling and purposeful.”
Haley Sandlow (847) 691-1155
@haleysandlow on Twitter