Founder of Scholarship Organization Wins First Ever Columbus Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award Clare Anderson wins award for educational grants to aid less-fortunate

Columbus, OH (Nov. 1, 2012) - In its first year, Direct Energy and ThisWeek Community News' Columbus Volunteer Citizen of the Year award is honoring Clare Anderson, with the help of HandsOn Central Ohio. Anderson is one of the founders of the Scholarship Opportunities for Success (SOS), a grass-roots organization that raises funds for low-income women to continue their education. By awarding these grants, SOS believes that the recipients become more economically self-sufficient and their children will benefit from that growth and independence.

Anderson's vision for SOS began 12 years ago when she and her friends attended a meeting where a mother of two young children received a scholarship to help with her college funds. Anderson wondered how many women like her were struggling to make ends meet and reach their educational goals. She rallied her friends together and they decided that their mission would be to provide low-income women with not only scholarships for tuition costs, but also grants for supplies such as computers, books, child care and transportation costs. Shortly after, Anderson sprung into action and tirelessly conducted research on how to form an organization and how to obtain a 501(c)3 status. Nearly a year later, SOS received its nonprofit designation. In its first year, SOS was able to award two $1,000 scholarships.

After SOS established itself, Anderson became vice president of fundraising development for the program. There were many times the founders of SOS felt burnt out and felt like giving up but Anderson insisted on keeping the mission of SOS going and established an endowment fund to ensure sustainability of the scholarships over time. Described in her nomination as the driving force behind SOS, Anderson has helped the organization raise over $250,000 resulting in 125 scholarships.

"Clare is remarkable. Not only did she identify an opportunity to help others, but she put her vision into action. Her dedication to SOS and its mission to assist women in receiving the education they need to thrive and care for their families is very important to the Columbus community," says Cory Byzewski, Vice President and General Manager for Direct Energy Residential. "We applaud Clare for her willingness to go above and beyond to ensure that others have a better quality of life."

By winning the Columbus Volunteer Citizen of the Year award, Anderson will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a $5,000 donation to SOS. The donation will be used to help additional women who have exhausted all of their available financial resources and enable them to complete their college degree.

"It is our honor to help recognize someone like Clare and to support an organization as the SOS. We received 35 nominations for this year's program but Clare's stood out from the rest due to her admirable story of dedication and resilience," said Roy Biondi, Publisher of ThisWeek Community News.

A special event honoring Clare Anderson will be held at HandsOn Central Ohio on Friday, November 16th at 4:00 pm. Representatives from Direct Energy, ThisWeek Community News and HandsOn Central Ohio will be on hand to present Clare with her award. HandsOn Central Ohio is located at 195 North Grant Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

About Direct Energy
Direct Energy is one of North America's largest energy and energy-related services providers with more than 6 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and 10 provinces in Canada.

About ThisWeek Community News
ThisWeek Community News is comprised of 25 weekly editions spanning Columbus and the surrounding areas of Delaware, Union and Licking Counties. Award-winning journalists report in-depth news on the hyper-local level: government and civic organizations, education and high school sports, business and lifestyle features.

About HandsOn Central Ohio
HandsOn Central Ohio inspires, equips and mobilizes people to create meaningful change in their lives and in their community. As the central Ohio affiliate of the HandsOn Network - the largest volunteer network in the nation with more than 250 action centers in 16 countries - HandsOn Central Ohio connects individuals and organizations with civic engagement opportunities. HandsOn Central Ohio also empowers people in need to make change in their lives by connecting them with critical community resources. For more information and to learn about volunteer opportunities, please visit http://www.handsoncentralohio.org.


For further information, please contact:

Julie Hendry
Direct Energy
412.925.6773
Julie.Hendry@directenergy.com