Out in the Field with Consumer Advocate Roxanne Sousa

By Darlene Masse

Out in the Field with Consumer Advocate Roxanne Sousa

The winter months can be a challenging time to manage energy bills, and this is especially true for those who are living on limited means. National Grid offers many ways to help our customers lower their energy bills, including balanced billing options, energy efficiency services, and low-income payment assistance programs.

As the temperature drops, we recently shadowed 27-year National Grid veteran Roxanne Sousa on a field visit to Newport, RI to help lower-income customers better manage their monthly energy bills. Amid the mansions and tourism industry that Newport is known for is a population of individuals and families in need who rely on the charitable support of the larger community.

roxanne

In collaboration with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Roxanne met with customers in private appointments at St. Joseph’s Church. The church is well-supported by the local community and is a lifeline for those in need. “We do a lot to help the working poor, who may make enough to get by, but if the car breaks down or if they have a medical emergency, it throws everything out of balance,” said Celeste Lalli, who has volunteered for the charitable organization St. Vincent de Paul for approximately a decade.

During the appointments, Roxanne goes over each individual customer’s billing history, outstanding balances, and payment assistance options. Roxanne’s decades of experience at National Grid are evident as she deftly helps customers understand their options and potential charitable resources. In many ways, Roxanne views her career at the company as coming full circle. She started as a cashier at our Melrose Street facility in Providence back when it was Narragansett Electric and customers came to that building to pay their monthly utility bills. After working in a variety of capacities for the company, she is back in a position where she can provide 1:1 customer service, a position that she clearly thrives in.

While describing the work that she does, Roxanne cited a famous quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Roxanne often remembers that quote as she works to help customers who are going through some of the toughest times in their lives.

“I like Roxanne as a person, and I admire her as a professional. She treats the people who come here Roxanne with Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers Pat Davis (left) and Celeste Lalli (right).with respect and dignity and builds up their self-esteem,” said Celeste. Pat Davis, another volunteer of St. Vincent de Paul for roughly 30 years, echoes Celeste’s comments. Both Pat and Celeste work with Roxanne each month during her outreach visits to Newport.

These monthly visits to Newport are among many things Roxanne does to provide community outreach to lower-income customers. She also works with local veterans organizations, including Operation Stand Down RI. In fact earlier this year, Roxanne received a certificate of achievement for her work helping veterans. Roxanne is also among a team of people who host and support Customer Assistance Expos. These expos connect attendees with financial assistance experts from local community organizations who can help them with a variety of social service needs. In addition to National Grid, representatives from United Way 2-1-1, LIHEAP, and SNAP Outreach participate in the expos.

These community outreach programs are a great opportunity for lower-income customers and families to get the support they need in managing their utility bills. Below are some upcoming outreach opportunities where customers can get assistance in person.

Customer Assistance Expo
Wednesday, November 9
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
St. Raymond’s Church
1240 North Main Street
Providence, RI
No appointments needed.

Monthly Sessions in Newport, RI
Tuesday, November 8
Tuesday, December 13
St. Joseph’s Church
5 Mann Avenue
Newport, RI
By appointment only.
Contact the church for an appointment at 401-847-0065.

One Comment

Heather Romero

I really enjoyed reading this piece and learning about Roxanne and the critical role she plays in personifying our “Here With You. Here For You” brand promise. Thank you, Roxanne, and thank you, Darlene, for bringing Roxanne’s story to life!

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