United Way of Long Island partnered with the Long Island Nets on Friday, February 23 to host Project Warmth Night during the Long Island Nets home game at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This special event raised awareness about the essential program for Long Islanders in need, and recognized the key funding partners who support it including the National Grid Foundation, National Grid, IBEW Local 1049 as well as the Long Island Nets.
Project Warmth is Long Island’s only non-government, Island-wide emergency heating fund 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. Since Project Warmth began on December 4, more than 1,600 children and adults stayed warmer this year after receiving emergency heating assistance.
The evening began with the singing of the National Anthem by 9-year-old Mason Gomez, whose family was a Project Warmth recipient. It continued with a special on-court presentation acknowledging National Grid Foundation, National Grid, IBEW Local 1049 and the Long Island Nets for their generosity, and recognizing them as “Project Warmth Community Champions”. Employees of National Grid and IBEW Local 1049 filled the stands, and gave a standing ovation when one of their own, U.S. Navy veteran and current National Grid employee Juan Santiago was honored as the Veteran of the Game.
“For families who are struggling, especially those with children or members who are medically compromised, winter can be a very stressful season in terms of financial stability,” said Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “Project Warmth prevents these families from having to make difficult decisions, like choosing between heat and medications. We are grateful to all of our partners and individual donors whose funding allows hundreds of families to breathe easier and be warm.”
“For many years, National Grid has been a proud supporter of United Way’s Project Warmth,” added Bob DeMarinis, United Way Board member and Vice President of Gas Operations and Construction at National Grid. “It is our responsibility to help ensure that Long Islanders stay warm during the winter, and through this partnership we are able to keep our neighbors who are in need out of the cold. It was a tremendous honor to be part of this year’s Project Warmth Night, receiving the Community Champion Award and seeing our employee Juan Santiago featured as the Veteran of the Game was a true testament to the power of this program and the lives that it touches.”
“While our relationship with United Way is just getting started, we look forward to future initiatives like Project Warmth Night where we can collaborate and give back to our neighbors,” concluded Alton Byrd, Vice President of Business Operations for the Long Island Nets. “It is important to us to lift the spirits of Long Islanders, on and off the court, and partnering with United Way is the perfect way to do both.”
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.
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 $10.5 million in emergency funding to more than 30,000 families. To support Project Warmth, please make a contribution on United Way of Long Island’s website at www.unitedwayli.org/projectwarmth.
Photo caption: (Pictured left to right) Alton Byrd, Vice President of Business Operations for the Long Island Nets, Ronald Bauer, United Way Board member and Business Manager of IBEW Local 1049, and Bob DeMarinis, United Way Board member and Vice President of Gas Operations and Construction at National Grid, accept their Project Warmth Community Champion Awards from John R. Durso, United Way Board Chair and President of Local 338 RWDSU.UFCW & LI Federation of Labor at Project Warmth Night.