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"Pass the Buck and Heat-Up St. Louis" Winter Campaign Rolls Out Helping South City St. Louis Single Mother Stay Warm and Develops A National Heat-Up USA To Generate Additional Fundraising Income

Heat-Up St. Louis, a not-for-profit, 501 (c) (3) energy assistance charity established just two years ago to aid Missouri and Illinois elderly, disabled and low-income families with small children, announced today that it only had $300 in the bank after it in-directly gave a special heat grant donation of $520  to a local South Side single mother, whose all-electric home was scheduled to be disconnected, the day after Christmas.

Joining the Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr., vice chairman of the board of directors to aid the single unemployed mother were St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay, Missouri State Senator Maida Coleman of the Fifth Senatorial District and James H. Buford, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. 

The all-volunteer energy assistance charity visited the home to help the media put a face to the dramatic need that the unemployed are increasingly joining the ranks of those in need of energy assistance. Heat-Up St. Louis has no staff. An all-volunteer board of directors underwrite all of the administrative costs so that every cent donated goes directly to helping those in need. Heat-Up St. Louis funds fill in or make-up the difference between federal, state, and other funding sources to restore a home heating source.

Heat-Up St. Louis also announced that it has undertaken a major new fundraising strategy. It has established Heat-Up USA, which will be a national concept available for corporate sponsorships. The corporate sponsorships will be developed by the local group.  The license agreement fees will be used for additional sources of income.

Heat-Up St. Louis official also unveiled that its 2002-03 winter campaign "Pass the Buck and Heat-Up St. Louis," has a 6% fund raising deficit.  It also announced that year to date (2002) the organization has helped a record number of more than 7,500 people with heat grants and referrals. Tax-deductible donations may be made through Heat-Up St. Louis, Inc., c/o UMB Bank, P.O. Box 868 , St. Louis , Missouri , 63188 , or by logging onto its website Heat-Up St. Louis reminds those in need of energy assistance to call its resource hotline at 314-241-7668 which covers numerous Illinois and Missouri counties.

"The weakened economy continues to take its toll on seniors with fixed incomes, the working poor, needy families with small children and today a large number of the unemployed," said the Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr., "The region is on a dangerous economic sleigh-ride as people who have never applied for energy assistance are reaching out in fear, because they do not know where their next meals are coming from, and they are wrestling with the rent and high utility bills."

Heat-Up St. Louis networks with about 11 Missouri and Illinois social service and community action agencies, including the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.  They presented a check of $2,000 to James H. Buford, president of that social service organization, who will select qualify individuals in need of energy assistance this winter.   Heat-Up St. Louis' supplemental heating grants for the needy includes the restoration of natural gas, electric, propane and home heating oil services, or when a home has received a disconnection notice. The Urban League had run out of funds when a South St. Louis mother of two required assistance.

"We appreciate the good works of Heat-Up St. Louis, in its efforts to ensure that the region's needy people stay warm and safe during the cold winter months," said St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay.  "Their all-volunteer efforts as an advocacy and energy assistance charity is critical because government just cannot do it all."

"We know that being without heat is an urban, suburban and rural community-wide problem," said Missouri State Senator Maida Coleman. "We also know that part of the issue is affordability and being without heat has become a health and safety issue." Senator Coleman also spoke for a stronger Cold Weather Rule, in an effort to close loop-holes which give area utilities a chance to disconnect the service of the needy during Indian-summer-like temperatures within the time frame of November through March.

Heat-Up St. Louis is also very disappointed with the Missouri Public Service Commission for not declaring an Emergency so that it could invoke the Emergency Amendment to the Cold Weather Rule.  "Natural gas cost is up, home heating oil cost has increased due to international unrest, and Congress is considering reducing federal energy assistance by about $300 million," said Gentry W. Trotter, founder of the charity.  "These chain of events clearly indicate an emergency, and would have helped to off-set reductions in private donations."

The Special Emergency Amendment to the Cold Weather Rule had previously provided an opportunity to spread the payment of a delinquent gas bill over a 18-month period with either an initial $250 payment or 25%, whichever is lesser, through March.

"While we are fortunate to have more than one funding source for utility assistance, all monies that we receive come with a variety of eligibility guidelines and limitations and there are times that people may fall through the cracks," stated Denise Liebel, county operations director of Northeast Missouri Action Corporation in St. Charles County in a prepared statement.  "Heat-Up St. Louis has given us another resource to fill gaps in service for those that might otherwise go without utilities.  Heat-Up's campaigns have made a tremendous difference with the low-income families, elderly and disabled of our community, when no other assistance was available to them."

Heat-Up St. Louis also announced that despite running a 6% fundraising deficit its allocation committee will add the Salvation Army in the City to its contribution lists of networking social service agencies.  "We are also looking at several other community organizations throughout the region to make sure that we target every inch of the St. Louis region where there are people in need," said Trotter, who also serves as the chairman of the allocation committee for Heat-Up St. Louis.

"We are fortunate to have a stop-gap agency like Heat-Up St. Louis in the region as many of the people who qualify for energy assistance may not always get the needed funds to keep their energy sources on," said Joe Hubbard, executive director of Catholic Urban Programs of Southern Illinois. "We were able to help hundreds of people with the funds from Heat-Up."

Heat-Up St. Louis, a non-utility charity has a grass-roots approach to energy assistance, from engaging the general public with special fundraising events to creating awareness programs regarding unsafe and unhealthy living conditions the needy face when they are not able to heat their homes.

"People want to do more and give more to help their neighbors by going beyond checking-off an item on their local utility bills," said the Reverend Nance, Jr.  "We want to engage the public, including protecting the rights of the needy against unreasonable utility rate hikes."

The social service and community action agencies receiving supplementary heat grants throughout the course of the winter are: Northeast Community Action Corporation in St. Charles County; Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc., in St. Louis City and County, and St. Clair County in Illinois; S.T.E.P., Inc., in St. Louis County; Catholic Urban Programs of Southern Illinois; Loving Hearts in Washington County; Jefferson County Catholic Community Services; East Missouri Action Agency in St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Iron and Madison Counties; Urban League of Madison County in Illinois; and South Central Missouri Economic Opportunity Corporation in Butler County, etc.

"The clients we serve at the Urban League throughout the metropolitan area depend on us for utility assistance," said James H. Buford, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.  "We are grateful that Heat-Up St. Louis is our partner in assisting families."

For Media Information Contact:
Tom Gorline or Gentry W. Trotter
314-749-0224 (Media Use ONLY)

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