In an effort to recognize the sentiment of Heart Month and Valentine’s Day in a different way, United Way of Long Island and National Grid Foundation teamed up with members of the Three Village Swim Club, a U.S.A. competitive swim team, for a first of its kind ‘plunge’ into a cold pool to benefit United Way’s Project Warmth Program. Brief remarks from representatives of the supporting organizations were followed by a ceremonial jump into the pool at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket. Check out all the photos at http://bit.ly/wTASJ1
Young swimmers from the Three Village Swim Club ‘had the heart’ to raise pledges to take the cold plunge to support fellow Long Islanders in need of heating help. Project Warmth – Long Island’s only non-governmental emergency fuel fund that is administered by United Way of Long Island – provides one-time fuel assistance grants for families facing heating emergencies during the winter months.
This heating season, United Way launched a $1 million campaign to strengthen Project Warmth’s ability to remain open through March to assist families in crisis. In a bold step, the National Grid Foundation awarded United Way of Long Island with a Matching Challenge Grant that matches all new Project Warmth contributions up to $150,000.
United Way of Long Island officially opened its Project Warmth Emergency Fuel Fund in December for the winter season. Over the past two winters, Project Warmth received more requests for assistance than any time during its history, forcing the program to prematurely close during the height of both winters. In fact, last February, United Way of Long Island received upwards of 150 calls daily for Project Warmth assistance. In December 2011, 48.3% of all incoming assistance requests calls to the 2-1-1 Long Island Call Center were for heating/utility payment assistance.
“Over the years, National Grid Foundation’s relationship with United Way of Long Island has been one of the most essential partnerships to combat fuel poverty in the region,” said Bob Keller, President of National Grid Foundation. “In the face of drastic cuts in government funding, our support of Project Warmth has never been more critical and our partnership, never more meaningful.”
Project Warmth partners with local community-based agencies that assist with utility payments to help families get back on the path to financial stability. Project Warmth provides qualifying families with heating emergencies (e.g., a near empty fuel tank or a final termination notice from their heating company) with a one-time grant to pay for fuel services to keep their homes habitable. Grants cover all types of fuel used for home heating, and United Way of Long Island negotiates delivery of fuel and direct payment with participating energy providers. Eligible applicants include those households ineligible for federal HEAP.
Long Islanders with heating emergencies should call 2-1-1 or 1-888-774-7633, or visit www.211longisland.org, or www.unitedwayli.org/projectwarmth.