With wind chills bringing temperatures into the single digits on Long Island, United Way of Long Island activated its emergency fuel fund, "Project Warmth." Project Warmth is Long Island's only non-government, Island-wide emergency fuel fund, serving as a safety net for individuals and families facing energy insecurity and are unable to pay their heating bills. Long Islanders seeking help to keep the heat on in their homes donned winter coats and hats to attend and apply for assistance during United Way of Long Island’s “Project Warmth Day” at the offices of their community partner agency, the Hispanic brotherhood of Rockville Centre in Rockville Centre, NY. Eligible applicants include Long Islanders who are behind in their utility payments, have a low or empty oil tank, have received a disconnection notice, and/or can demonstrate financial hardship.
On Project Warmth Day, Robert G. Keller, President of National Grid Foundation, presented Project Warmth with a gift of $125,000, to continue their support of the program. Keller met with several of the individuals who were applying for a Project Warmth grant, noting that "It’s incredibly gratifying to be able to see that we’re helping to make a difference in these people's lives."
As Project Warmth applicants completed their forms, many of them still wearing their winter coats, Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island remarked, "There are thousands of people who are struggling in this region and in this weather, one can only imagine individuals braving the night in their homes without heat. We thank National Grid Foundation for continuing to support Project Warmth for over the past 15 years." With approximately 1,400 families on Long Island expected to be assisted with funding during the 2015-16 Project Warmth season, Regnante added, "This significant contribution will allow United Way of Long Island to bring essential help to families during the winter season." Since 1999, National Grid Foundation has contributed more than $1.34 million to help Long Islanders stay warm through the fund.
There are currently more than 177,000 Long Islanders living below the poverty line. The working poor and seniors living on a fixed income often face unforeseen financial difficulties, forcing them to make compromises like foregoing heat that could be potentially life-threatening. Margarita Grasing, Executive Director of the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Center noted, "There is a lot of need on Long Island. There are many who are doing well, but we also have a lot of poverty; people struggling to survive on very little money. Project Warmth makes a big difference for people deciding which bills to pay each month."
Long Islanders like Joan Fennel of Freeport hoped to receive a one-time grant to help pay her home heating costs. Fennel, a single grandmother who was affected by Hurricane Sandy is still reeling from the closure of her storm-torn business and mounting medical issues and is struggling to get current on her living expenses, including her utility payments. Living with her daughter and three young grandchildren, she receives regular termination notices from her utility companies despite her monthly attempts to pay her balances. She states, "As a senior citizen on a fixed-income, I need help and I’m no longer embarrassed to ask for it. I worked my whole life, but living on Long Island, I’m not making the income needed to support life. I’m making payments each month, but I just can’t keep up." She acknowledged, "I am so grateful the support I am receiving through Project Warmth. I feel so much more secure knowing that my family will be warm during the coldest time of the year."
Project Warmth is available during the winter months, generally opening in December, and remains open until the funds are exhausted. For assistance from Project Warmth, contact United Way of Long Island's 2-1-1 service by dialing 2-1-1, calling toll-free at 1-888-774-7633, or visiting their website at www.211longisland.org.
Since its inception, Project Warmth has provided more than $9.8 million in emergency funding to nearly 88,000 children and adults. To support Project Warmth, please make a contribution on United Way of Long Island's website at www.unitedwayli.org.
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Pictured from left to right: North Baldwin resident and Project Warmth applicant, Thelma Johnson; Margarita Grasing, Executive Director of this Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre; North Bellmore resident and Project Warmth applicant, Richelle Nelson; Theresa A. Regnante, President & CEO of United Way of Long Island; Freeport resident and Project Warmth applicant, Joan Fennel; Robert G. Keller, President of the National Grid Foundation; Roosevelt resident and Project Warmth applicant, Francisco Torres; Hempstead residents and Project Warmth applicants, Ruffino Arriola; and Tomasa Rivera
About United Way of Long Island
United Way of Long Island advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, financial stability and health. We recruit people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become part of the change. United Way of Long Island is part of a worldwide network spanning across 41 countries and territories, including more than 1,200 local organizations in the U.S. For more information about United Way of Long Island, please visit www.UnitedWayLI.org, Facebook United Way of Long Island or Twitter @unitedwayli.
About the National Grid Foundation
The National Grid Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life, economic strength and environmental stewardship in National Grid’s service territory. The Foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for solutions to today’s educational and environmental challenges. By awarding grants to non-profit organizations, the Foundation inspires and serves as a catalyst to a shared future, ultimately impacting and improving lives of the underserved in our neighborhoods. Since its inception in December 1998, the Foundation has provided nearly $20 million in grants to hundreds of organizations.
About the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Center
The agency, a not-for-profit organization, was established in 1984 by a small group of Hispanic residents in order to assist the fast growing population of immigrants from different Spanish language cultures. As the size of the Hispanic population has grown, sohasits original service area. The agency serves four surrounding municipalities: Freeport, Oceanside, Lynbrook and Baldwin under grants from the NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal, Nassau County Youth Board, Nassau County Department of Senior Citizen Affairs, United Way of Long Island, as well as support from foundations and local churches. The organization provides foreclosure counseling under the New York State Attorney General’s office. For more information about the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre, please visit www.hispanicbrotherhood.org.