Keep the Heat On Wraps up 19th season of meeting temporal, spiritual needs of those in greatest need


PROVIDENCE — Last month, a client named “Joanne” called the Diocese of Providence’s Keep the Heat On program for help in getting some oil delivered to heat her home after moving from Pawtucket to Providence.
She had applied for federal LIHEAP assistance and was feeling cold in her home while waiting for approval.
“I was able to help her with 100 gallons of oil while she waited for her federal grant,” said Sister Chan Nguyen, F.M.M., who serves as a case worker for the Office of Catholic Charities and Social Ministry, assisting clients applying for Keep the Heat On assistance.
The Keep the Heat On program just wrapped up its 19th season, one which saw warmer temperatures and less snowfall, as 540 households benefited from diocesan heating assistance this year.
The program disbursed a total of $185,906.20, including $182,538.14 in oil assistance, $2,592.53 in gas and $775.53 in electricity payments.
James Jahnz, secretary of the Office of Catholic Charities and Social Ministry, said he is thankful for all the support that pastors, parishioners and donors contribute to allow Keep the Heat On to serve those in the greatest need to stay warm in the winter.
This year, Christ the King Parish donated $25,000 in support of the program, and Santoro Oil donated another $25,000 to Keep the Heat On, as it did the previous season.
Jahnz said that this season turned out to be a very typical one (after two very difficult heating seasons), with two years ago being the program’s busiest year by far and last year its fourth busiest.
“I think Bishop Henning brought some of the warmer weather from down south (Long Island), when he was installed as Bishop in Providence,” Jahnz said with a smile.
He said that the warmer winter season allowed the program to stay within its budget this year.
“Our donations were level with what we were able to provide in assistance; we didn’t have to dip into reserves,” Jahnz said.
Jahnz praised the work of Sister Chan and the staff in also helping to meet the spiritual needs of the clients, as they seek assistance for their temporal needs.
Sister Chan said that with hesitation, Joanne also asked for some food, used clothing and toiletries, which she gladly supplied her with, along with a beautiful jacket that her fellow sisters in her community gave her to help the less fortunate.
“Her face was so radiant with the things we gave her,” she said of the client.
“I saw in her the potential of listening and practicing God’s words in her life. I gave her a rosary and encouraged her to pray with her husband,” whom Sister Chan learned had cancer and was being treated with chemotherapy and preparing for surgery.
After receiving even more rosaries for her husband and daughter from Nancy Luna and other staff in the office, Joanne began to cry at the outpouring of support.
“You have lifted me up and brought hope to me,” Joanne told Sister Chan, thanking her and the staff for all that they had done.
“Nancy and I were also emotional and touched when we experienced that God was in the midst of our conversation and in our love for our brothers and sisters, whom the Lord has sent to us through the diocese,” Sister Chan added. “Many times, the clients are the ones who touch us more than we think we help them.”