FirstEnergy Foundation Presents “Gifts of the Season” to Local Charitable Organizations in The Illuminating Company’s Service Area

Gifts are part of the FirstEnergy Foundation’s annual holiday campaign
2021 Gifts of the Season
2021 Gifts of the Season

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio, Dec. 15, 2021 -- The FirstEnergy Foundation has granted surprise $5,000 "Gifts of the Season" to two local nonprofit agencies that are working to make lives better in communities within The Illuminating Company's service area.

The recipients of this year's gifts are EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and HOLA Ohio in Painesville, Lake County – two organizations that provide support services to underserved and vulnerable individuals of all ages across the greater Cleveland area.

"We're proud to support these organizations because their missions align with our commitment to a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued, included and respected," said Lorna Wisham, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. "The winners were chosen by FirstEnergy External Affairs employees who identified organizations in their local areas that do extraordinary work to strengthen the community and enhance the lives of vulnerable and underserved populations."

Established in 2007, EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute provides formerly incarcerated adults with a foundation in culinary and hospitality industries, while offering housing and support services at its Second Chance Life Skills Center. Nearly 100 students graduate from the Institute each year and 95% of graduates are employed in food service and dining establishments across Ohio.

"We believe every human being, regardless of their past, has a right to a fair and equal future," said Brandon Chrostowski, founder, president and chief executive officer of EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute. "The generous funds from the FirstEnergy Foundation will support our ongoing mission to help returning citizens receive the training and support services necessary for long-term success."

Similarly, HOLA Ohio is tapping into the hospitality industry to help boost education, workforce development and entrepreneurship within northeast Ohio's Latino and immigrant communities. The organization's new $2 million HOLA Hispanic Community Center, expected to open in March 2022, will feature a commercial kitchen, classroom and meeting spaces to help individuals hone their culinary and entrepreneurship skills.

"Our new community center will allow us to expand programs and services that arm Latino families with skills that will lead to better jobs and economic stability, while also celebrating their culture and helping them lead healthier lives," said Veronica Isabel Dahlberg, executive director of HOLA Ohio.

Photos of FirstEnergy's annual "Gifts of the Season" check presentations are being shared on social media using the hashtag #GiftsofFE. Since its inception in 2016, the campaign has awarded nearly $500,000 to organizations that work to strengthen communities.

The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and provides support to non-profit, tax-exempt health and human services agencies; educational organizations; cultural and arts programs and institutions; and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy's 10 electric operating companies and in areas where the company conducts business.

The Illuminating Company serves more than 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties. Follow The Illuminating Company on Twitter @IlluminatingCo and on Facebook at

FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.

Editor's Note: Photos of the Gifts of the Season being presented to these organizations by FirstEnergy representatives are available for download on Flickr.


MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Siburkis, (330) 203-8850

Last Modified: December 15, 2021