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Virginia Beach will always appreciate its description as the small town that's the biggest city in Virginia. The military contributes to a diverse and transient population, and in a resort city that is happy to have visitors, the hospitality is evident. It is a friendly, tight-knit community that is thriving and growing. Moving here a few years ago, my family and I were overwhelmed by the warm welcome. 

Last week was the first full week of summer and as a beach town, that means we were preparing for a slew of festivals. When I got a text just after 4 p.m. on Friday indicating there had been a mass shooting at the city's municipal complex, our leadership team was instantly reeling. We were heartbroken to learn what had happened and the loss of innocent lives. Virginia Natural Gas employees are also at the municipal building every day, so our thoughts went directly to our employees and their safety. Were any of our people there? Within about an hour, we had a message out to our management team asking them to check with every employee on their staffs and to report back. At 7:30 p.m. the VNG leadership team had its first meeting to discuss next steps to not only help our employees process what happened, but how we could help our community.  

VNG's culture is family-oriented, and the community is our extended family. We quickly learned of employees' neighbors and extended family who were involved in the incident. Many were impacted in deeply profound ways. With the help of our HR leadership, we were able make grief counseling available for employees on Monday, despite the high demand for grief counselors in the area. 

Our healing process is only beginning. It will surely be a lengthy process. But VNG and its employees will play a significant role in that process because that is what we do as part of this terrific community. VNG and the Southern Company Gas Foundation are contributing a total of $50,000 to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund that will be used to support the families of the victims. In the wake of this devastating tragedy, we stand together as a community and a region. We will be involved in future efforts to recognize and move forward from this incident, as we're committed to being more mindful of engaging with our fellow employees and neighbors in this wonderful community.

Jim Kibler, President of Virginia Natural Gas