PROVIDENCE — For the third consecutive year, the National Grid Foundation has awarded a major donation to the Diocese of Providence to support “Keep the Heat On,” the diocesan heating assistance program.
On Tuesday, National Grid Foundation President Bob Keller presented a check for $100,000 to Bishop Thomas J. Tobin to support Rhode Island residents unable to heat their homes during the cold winter months through “Keep the Heat On.” Also present to receive the check was diocesan Emergency Services Coordinator James Jahnz.
“It is an absolute pleasure for me to be here today and to recognize the good work of the diocese,” said Keller. “It’s truly spectacular, and Rhode Island would be a very different place without [Keep the Heat On].”
“Keep the Heat On” began 11 years ago as an initiative by Bishop Tobin to assist Rhode Islanders who’ve exhausted all other public and private forms of assistance meet the rising costs of heating their homes. Since 2005, the program has provided more than $2 million to about 10,000 families struggling to pay their oil, gas or electric bills during the winter months.
“What I appreciate so much about this program is the fact that it makes a real tangible difference for people,” said Bishop Tobin. “We know the money we collect from National Grid and the Catholic Charity Appeal and from so many wonderful donors goes out to make a real tangible difference for so many families and households and children.”
The National Grid Foundation made its first major donation of $70,000 to “Keep the Heat On” in January of 2014. The initial check was presented in the home of Maria Centeio, a mother of two and grandmother of one who received a donated shipment of oil after applying to “Keep the Heat On” that year.
With the addition of a $100,000 gift last year, the total amount of money donated to the program by the National Grid Foundation over the past three years has neared $300,000.
“We’re so very, very grateful once again for the major grant from the National Grid Foundation,” said Bishop Tobin. “This has become a wonderful annual tradition for us, and the support of the National Grid Foundation has made a huge difference in our program.”
Temperatures on Tuesday dropped into the single digits, delivering the harshest weather so far this season along with a reminder that residents of Rhode Island must always be prepared to provide heating options for themselves and others in the state’s ever-changing winter climate.
“It’s a reminder that as we enter now into the very cold months of winter there will be many people in our state — families, households, children — who really will rely on the support of the ‘Keep the Heat On’ program for their own heating assistance in their own homes,” said Bishop Tobin.
In addition to recognizing the diocese’s work in providing heating assistance to those in need over the past 10 years, Keller encouraged others to support their fellow Rhode Islanders by making private donations to the program. In particular, he encouraged those considering donating to take advantage of the diocese’s new Text-to-Give initiative. Launched in November 2015, the initiative allows individuals to make a small donation $10 or $25 through a cell phone provider simply by sending a text message.
“Part of the reason I’m here today is not only to make our donation, but to really encourage all Rhode Islanders to think about your friends and neighbors,” said Keller. “To think about the struggles that they may be going through and to think about the opportunity to just give a small donation to help them out. As you can see here, it doesn’t take a lot.”
Keller also mentioned plans to attend the Providence College versus Marquette University basketball game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Tuesday and to promote “Keep the Heat On” to the crowd.
“Hopefully people will be in a very good mood because they’re winning,” he said.
The National Grid Foundation was created in 1998 to enhance the quality of life for individuals across its grant-making territory and has provided more than $18 million in grants to hundreds of organizations. Over the past three years, the foundation has consistently provided the largest single contributions to “Keep the Heat On” outside funds from the Catholic Charity Appeal.
“We’re grateful for everyone’s support,” said Bishop Tobin. “We pray that once again the ‘Keep the Heat On’ program will be a great success in our community.”
Make a Donation
Those wishing to make a donation to the diocesan heating program can mail checks to “Keep the Heat On,” One Cathedral Square, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, or visit www.heatri.com and use the secure Web server for credit card donations. Mobile device users can also text HEAT to 27722 to donate $10 or HEATRI to 27722 to donate $25.
Rhode Islanders in need of heating assistance may call 401-421-7833 ext. 207 or log onto www.heatri.com for additional information or to apply online. Applicants must demonstrate ineligibility for other federal, state and private assistance. All inquiries are confidential.