|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 12, 2010|
City of St. Louis and County Donors Give Big Boost to Heat-Up St.Louis
$300,000 in grants helps keep people safe and warm
January 12, 2010 –St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay joined St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley; St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson; Melanie DiLeo, Chair of Heat-Up St. Louis; and Reverend Earl E. Nance,Jr., Chair Emeritus of Heat-Up St. Louis to unveil plans to help battle cold weather and to kick off the 2010 campaign, “Every Red Cent Helps Heat-Up St. Louis.”
The plans were unveiled during the all-volunteer, regional utility assistance and public education charity’s brief recognition of its 10th Anniversary in City Hall. The plans includes additional phone lines, a series of public outreach clinics -- working with local utility firms, so people can better understand their bills, as well as learning more about conservation, a winter "Check On Your Neighbor" program in partnership with the St. Louis Clergy Coalition, etc., and a strong public service campaign which will also provide useful counsel and helpful hints on- line.
“I’m glad to be associated with Heat-Up St. Louis’ effort,” said honorary Heat-Up St. Louis Board Chair Mayor Slay. “Heat-Up St.Louis does a great job ensuring that all people in the metropolitan area – and especially City residents – stay warm enough when the temperatures drop.”
During last week’s severe cold snap, Heat-Up St. Louis had received an average of 200 calls per day from people seeking energy assistance. In just the past week, over 1,500 people have received assistance or referrals to one of Heat-Up’s 14 partnering agencies.
“These are very tough and dangerous times, and we appreciate the leadership effort of Mayor Francis Slay in meeting the tremendous needs of literally thousands of households within our City, and our region,” said Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr., longtime board member and Heat-Up St. Louis’ chair emeritus. “We need to save lives, we need to keep people warm, we need to help hundreds who are making daunting decisions between heating their homes, eating, paying their rent, and buying their prescription drugs.”
Since its inception, Heat-Up St. Louis has impacted the lives of more than 199,000 people through public education, heating grants, and referrals through the resource help hotline at 314-241-7668.
Heat-Up St. Louis officials, along with St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, pointed out that winter months have the highest incidents of home and apartment fires, often due to use of unsafe heating method in homes.
“It’s imperative that we never stop offering people alternatives to using space heaters as their primary heating sources,” said Chief Jenkerson, a member of Heat-Up’s board of directors. “Unsafe space heaters are the primary causes of house fires.”
At the press conference, Mayor Slay and County Executive Dooley co-signed a $300,000 check to Heat-Up St. Louis. $280,000 was donated from the City’s Equitable Relief From Utility Tax Fund, and the remaining amount was donated by numerous County residents.
“Government cannot do it all – it takes a regional grass-root effort like Heat-Up St. Louis to locate and qualify citizens who need help to restore or continue their heat,” said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.
Several Heat-Up St. Louis clients were available to discuss how they were recently helped by Heat-Up St. Louis. Clients who wish to qualify for energy assistance are required to provide proof-of-income, and a photo I.D. Heat-Up St. Louis, which offers help to the City of St. Louis as well as roughly 17 Missouri and Illinois counties, aids qualified seniors, disabled, and low-income people based on income and health issues.
Heat-Up St.Louis works with individuals who have been disconnected (or are in danger of being disconnected) from their utility services. In the City, heating grants are limited to $600; in other areas of the region, grants are limited to $250.
“Until you visit some of these needy homes, you have no idea of the bitter cold, the emotional trauma, and the uncertainty that many of our neediest neighbors face,” said Melanie DiLeo, board chairwoman. “It’s very difficult for us - and obviously for the individuals - who don’t have resources to keep the heat on. Today’s historic grants make a HUGE difference.”
Heat-Up St. Louis also stressed the importance of all Missouri residents to take full advantage of the Cold Weather Rule, which prohibits shut-offs of utility service when the temperature is forecasted to drop below 32 degrees. The "Rule" gives consumers a chance to make monthly budget arrangements, and customers should notify the utility of their inability to pay. In addition, it doesn't require a deposit, if your payment arrangements are kept and the "Rule" allows reconnection of your services for less than the full past-due amount, etc. In Illinois you can also negotiate with your heating vendor in most cases.
Individuals can help Heat-Up St. Louis’ effort by adding a $3 or $5 donation when checking out at any area Schnucks Supermarket and by making larger donations at www.heatupstlouis.org or through UMB Bank at Heat-Up St. Louis, Inc., c/o UMB Bank, P.O. Box 868, St. Louis, MO 63188.
Heat-Up St. Louis is also seeking 500 volunteers to serve as “Celebrity Greeters” at area Missouri and Illinois Hardee’s restaurants during breakfast on Friday, February 12. Hardee’s will donate a sausage and egg biscuit sandwich in exchange of a $1.00 or more donation. Groups and businesses interested in helping should sign up online at www.heatupstlouis.org or call 314-241-7668.