United Way of Long Island and its partner agencies hosted Project Warmth Day events in Freeport and Wyandanch, covering both counties across Long Island, granting over $85,000 to 164 households on this awareness day to help pay their home heating bills.
As Long Island’s only non-governmental, Island-wide emergency heating fund, Project Warmth is available all winter as a safety net for individuals and families who are facing energy insecurity and are unable to pay their heating bill, many of whom have already exhausted all other options for assistance by this point in the season.
At the outreach session held at the Freeport Recreation Center, Robert G. Keller, President of the National Grid Foundation, presented Project Warmth with a gift of $110,000 to continue their support of the program. “Although the temperature outside is considered higher than average, think about sitting in your home if the thermostat reads 49 degrees and having to go to sleep and eat in your winter coat. That is no way for someone to live. National Grid Foundation is proud to give this gift to United Way of Long Island in support of this important program.”
Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island added, “There are thousands of people who work hard to provide for their family but still struggle to keep up with their bills. Living in a home without heat is dangerous, especially for the elderly and young children. We are grateful to National Grid Foundation, along with all of our supporters, for their constant generosity in helping ensure that Long Islanders are staying safe and warm during this winter season.”
Community outreach continued into ‘Project Warmth Night’ at The Rinx at Wyandanch Plaza, where lines of applicants quickly formed. Families gathered to go ice skating, complete arts and crafts projects and learn about science and technology activities, with the fees generously covered by the Wyandanch Plaza Association.
Those helped by Project Warmth include Daryl Lewis, a single father and U.S. Army veteran who is living on a fixed income after he was injured at work. “I need to keep my house warm for my daughter’s sake,” explained Daryl. “There have been times when I had to wait a few days before filling up our oil tank because I couldn’t afford the cost. When you can’t find room in your budget to pay your oil bill, it is not just a warm home you are missing; you don’t have hot water either. You don’t realize the effect an empty oil tank has on your daily life until you can’t afford to fill it. This grant from Project Warmth helped us immensely, and we are so grateful for this kindness.”
More than 267,000 households on Long Island are living just above the poverty line but are struggling to make ends meet. This population known as ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed survives living paycheck to paycheck. These families and individuals work hard to make enough money to support their families, but often find themselves behind on bills, including their heating costs. This time of year is especially dangerous for children and seniors – their situation could quickly become perilous if they are forced to choose between heat and food or medication.
Project Warmth is available during the winter months, generally opening in December, and remains open until the funds are fully allocated. 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 $10 million in emergency funding to more than 94,000 children and adults. To support Project Warmth, please make a contribution on United Way of Long Island’s website at www.unitedwayli.org/projectwarmth.
Project Warmth is made possible through the generous support of individuals, corporations and foundations. This includes leading sponsors: National Grid Foundation, GEICO, National Grid, Northville, PSEG Long Island, Connoisseur Media Long Island, Oil Heat Comfort Corp., Newsday and Fortunoff Backyard Stores.
Photo caption 1: National Grid Foundation presents United Way of Long Island with a $110,000 gift supporting Project Warmth. Pictured (l to r) Devera Lynn, Vice President Of Marketing & Resource Development, United Way of Long Island, Jacob Dixon, President, Choice For All, Robert G. Keller, President, National Grid Foundation, Robert T. Kennedy, Mayor of the Village of Freeport, Craig Fligstein, Vice President, Program/Grant Development, Daryl Lewis, Project Warmth grant recipient, Sandra Mahoney, Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of Long Island.
Photo caption 2: Theresa A. Regnante, United Way of Long Island President and CEO, and Vanessa Pugh, Chief Deputy Commissioner at Suffolk County Department of Labor Licensing & Consumer Affairs join children at The Rinx at Wyandanch Plaza on Project Warmth Night.