PROVIDENCE — Kristen Costa, 35, is a supermom. She’s caring for her two children, navigating work, motherhood and her own personal health concerns — in a pandemic no less. The Rumford resident was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer and has been recuperating from a partial hysterectomy. She had a payment plan with National Grid for her electric, but was unable to keep current with the agreed upon budget plan plus the current bill. Finances were getting tight.
“What was supposed to be four to five weeks out of work is going on four months now,” explained Costa who turned to the Diocese of Providence for assistance. She was waiting on her check from Temporary Disability Insurance when help from Keep the Heat On, the diocesan heating assistance program, came just in time to help with time sensitive utility payments.
“I called my church, St. Francis Xavier in East Providence, and they recommended the Keep the Heat On program. We probably would have been out on the street if they didn’t help us. They are just amazing.”
Doctors have shared that Costa is now in remission, wonderful news after many challenging months of fear and worry.
“I try not to live in the what ifs,” Costa said, adding how grateful she is to the diocese and those who donate to the Keep the Heat On program which came to her family’s aid.
“I am very appreciate of what they have given me and done for me.”
For the last 17 seasons, Keep the Heat On has been supplying heating assistance to Rhode Islanders who have exhausted all other public and private forms of assistance. In a year in which everything seemed upside down due to the pandemic, Keep the Heat On has remained a constant in providing assistance to those in need, said Secretary for diocesan Catholic Charities and Social Ministry James Jahnz.
“Many of those we were able to help this past year were facing large utility bills and were facing termination of services, or were looking at being unable to put oil in their tanks because they had either been unable to work or their households were affected by Covid. Usually, Keep the Heat On is a little quiet during the fall and we are gearing up for the winter cold, but this year we have had record numbers for requests during September and October compared to the past and we have been helping households that are facing shut offs. Keep the Heat On continues to be very much a lifesaving program for thousands of Rhode Islanders.”
The program, which Bishop Thomas J. Tobin began here in the diocese in 2005, has raised more than $3.5 million to help more than 15,000 Rhode Island families and individuals keep warm in the winter. Funding for the program comes from the Catholic Charity Appeal and generous donations from individuals, parishes, schools, agencies and corporations. So far this year, the program has provided support to 193 homes and more than $90,000 in assistance.
There are many ways to contribute to Keep the Heat On and help your neighbors in need. To make a secure donation online, or to learn about how to pay by check, please visit www.heatri.com.
In conjunction with the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Providence, the Gregorian Concert Choir and Festival Orchestra will perform the “The Sounds of the Season” concert on Sunday, December 5 at 3 p.m., to benefit Keep the Heat On. Tickets may be purchased by calling the cathedral office at 331-2434. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of the concert.
For those seeking heating assistance, please visit www.heatri.com.
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