PROVIDENCE — The Diocese of Providence granted $411,637.10 in heating assistance this season, the most aid it has provided in the 17-year history of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s Keep the Heat On Program. This amount is more than double the $171,119.55 in assistance it provided last season.
The extraordinary assistance provided to those with no place else to turn to keep their homes warm was made possible by a $250,000 National Grid Foundation grant. This amount matched the energy utility foundation’s previous largest-ever gift to the program.
Including the foundation’s award, Keep the Heat On received a total of $341,611.22 in donations and grants this season. The program provided $306,484.27 to 1,037 households — $306,484.27 to those who heat their homes with oil, $38,484.66 with gas, and $66,668.17 with electricity.
“This year, Keep the Heat On provided an increase in assistance of greater than 40% from our previous high water mark,” said James Jahnz, director of the diocesan Office of Catholic Charities and Social Ministry, referring to the 2014-2015 heating season, when the program provided $292,999.84 in total assistance.
Jahnz said the amount of assistance provided is an indication of a greater need than has been seen in the history of the program.
“Rhode Island households are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic and rising energy prices brought on by a number of factors, all while facing staggering inflation,” he said.
“Thanks to Bishop Tobin’s Keep the Heat On program, thousands of our neighbors were able to keep warm this winter and utilize this home heating and heart-warming program.”
The large, unmet need arose from a combination of factors, chief among them is that households are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As conditions improved last year, moratoriums on utility shutoffs for unpaid bills were lifted, leaving many without heat as they had difficulty paying their overdue balances.
“As we got into the deep part of the winter we saw skyrocketing energy prices which included a bump when the war in Ukraine began,” Jahnz said. “In addition, some of the demand can be attributed to the fact that we are still seeing some cold nights, so we anticipate helping homes for a little longer even though this is May.”
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin launched Keep the Heat On in the diocese in 2005 to assist those with nowhere else to turn for help in keeping warm in their homes. Since then, the program has raised nearly $4 million to help more than 16,000 Rhode Island families and individuals keep warm in the winter. The program is funded through donations from individuals, parishes, schools, organizations, along with grants from corporations and the annual Catholic Charity Appeal.
To make a secure donation online, or to learn about how to pay by check, please visit www.heatri.com/donate. For those seeking heating assistance, please visit www.heatri.com/apply-for-help.
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