Heat-Up St. Louis, a not-for-profit, 501 (c) (3) energy assistance charity established one year ago to warm thousands of cold homes of the bi-state area’s elderly, disabled and low-income families is also attempting to help the area unemployed people impacted by the September 11 terrorists’ acts and the local weakened economy.
The group which has only about $1,500 in the bank, today rolled out its 2002 winter campaign theme, “It Should Not Take A Bank to Heat A Home,” in the vault surrounded by real and phony bags of money at Truman Bank in Clayton. Joining Heat-Up St. Louis officials were St. Louis County Executive George “Buzz” Westfall; St. Louis Fire Commissioner and Chief Sherman George; St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green and several Missouri and Illinois social service and community action agency representatives who use Heat-Up St. Louis donations to supplement heating grants for the needy in the restoration of natural gas, electric, propane and home heating oil services.
The not-for-profit organization is predicting a heavy onslaught of requests of those local unemployed residents in the St. Louis metropolitan area who have been impacted by the September 11 terrorists’ attacks. Heat-Up St. Louis officials also encouraged those natural gas customers living on the Missouri side of the St. Louis region to take full advantage of the special emergency cold weather rule which provides 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 2002.
In addition, the not-for-profit charity encourages all Illinois and Missouri residents to take full advantage of a budget plan currently being offered by their local utilities. “People who can afford to pay their utility bills have an obligation to do so,” said Gentry W. Trotter, founder and president of Heat-Up St. Louis.
“Last year, natural gas cost was at an all time high and people are still paying on those past due heating bills,” said St. Louis County executive George “Buzz” Westfall. “Even though it is being predicted that we will have a mild winter and natural gas prices have stabilized, it is still going to be a difficult winter for many of our St. Louis County residents who are on a fixed-income, or who unfortunately have been laid-off due to the current recession.”
The Urban League of St. Louis County and S.T.E.P., Inc., were among the ten area social service and community action agencies which use Heat-Up St. Louis funds to fill in or make-up the difference between federal, state, and other funding sources to restore a home heating source.
“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. “Heat-Up St. Louis has given us another resource to fill gaps in service for those that might otherwise go without utilities. Heat-Up/Cool Down 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.”
“A large number of unemployed people will literally be standing in line between those disabled and elderly people on fixed incomes,” said Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr., Campaign Chairperson.
Reverend Nance also announced that the organization so far has helped about 5,000 people with energy assistance this year. In addition, Heat-Up St. Louis’ telephone referral service directed more than 6,000 calls for assistance from people in Illinois and Missouri seeking heating and cooling assistance during this year to other social service and community action agencies.
This year, the not-for-profit group also stresses the importance of health and safety for those attempting to use alternative heating methods. “I cannot imagine what it is like being cold in a home during the winter,” said St. Louis City Fire commissioner and chief Sherman George. “However, I can imagine what happens when people attempt to use unsafe methods as alternative heating. This often causes extensive fire damage, and personal injuries including deaths to the person and their neighbors.”
Gentry W. Trotter, founder and president of Heat-Up St. Louis, Inc., and a former public relations executive for a local gas utility provider announced that J. Kim Tucci, president of the Pasta House Company and Barbara A. Pacifico, executive vice president of CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent corporation of Hardee’s Food Systems, Inc., will be elected to the board of directors in January 2002. Tucci will serve as chairman of the board, and Barbara A. Pacifico will serve as vice president of the board, replacing public relations executive Tim Gorline. Gorline will remain on the board and the Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr., will retain his current title of campaign chairperson.
Curt Swearingen, a certified public accountant and treasurer for Heat-Up St. Louis reported that the organization received donations during a 10-month period of about $130,000. The funds were distributed as heating and cooling allocations to the organization’s networking social service and community action agencies in Missouri and Illinois. About sixty-five percent of the donations received were used for winter energy assistance. Next year’s campaign goal is $100,000.
“While we are excited beyond our wildest dreams that we were able to raise a significant amount of money from our first time out, we are in desperate need of funds,”said Swearingen. “The public can charge their tax-deductible donation through MasterCard and Visa by logging on our new website www.heatupstlouis.org.” In addition, tax-deductible donations may be sent to Heat-Up St. Louis, c/o Truman Bank, P.O. Box 9330, St. Louis, MO 63117. All administrative costs are underwritten.
Heat-Up St. Louis also has a summer cooling relief program in an effort to avoid heat strokes and deaths through its Cool Down St. Louis program. The program initiated a “Check Your Neighbor Project,” with area radio stations, community and religious organizations to ensure that the elderly and disabled were checked in on for cooling assistance needs. Cool Down St. Louis was one of few providing cooling funds in some parts of the bi-state area.
“For the first time in five years, we were able to pay electric bills and/or get small window air-conditioners to help several elderly and/or disabled clients as they struggled to remain cool in their homes,” said Loretta Kelly, director of Jefferson County Catholic Community Services. “We are extremely grateful there were funds available for both heat last winter and cooling this past summer.”
Realizing that the City of St. Louis’ local economy has been impacted by the September 11 terrorists’ attacks, St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green announced that she was given a $250, tax-deductible donation to Heat-Up St. Louis, Inc. Green also is hoping that her 75-member Comptroller staff considers giving to this effort, as their donations will be designated to city residents.
“We realize that Heat-Up St. Louis is a regional agency and the largest percentage of donations are distributed to helping our neighbors in the City of St. Louis,” said Darlene Green. “It certainly should not take a bank to heat a home, and I challenge all elected officials, city and county departments within the region to match my donation.”
“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 and Cool Down St. Louis.”
The organization announced that it will be working with Schnucks supermarkets in Missouri and Illinois next month on a Scan and Give for Heat 2002 program. Customers will have an opportunity to scan a $1 or $3 donation onto their grocery bill at the check out registers. In addition, Hardee’s restaurants have agreed to donate their entire gross sales receipts from the sale of their Sausage and Egg Biscuit sandwiches during the annual Rise and Shine for Heat fundraiser schedule in the early part of February 2002.
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 or cool their homes to opposing utility increases.
“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 Gentry W. Trotter, president and founder. “We want to engage the public, including protecting the rights of the needy against unreasonable utility rate hikes.”
The organization also announced its plans to renew its Super Heat Weekend Special Religious Collection during Super Bowl Weekend scheduled for January 26, and 27 in January. Also the Pasta House Company will later announce its plans for a month long fundraiser for later in the winter with a Buy a Flame, Heat a Home program. And a special corporate drive is scheduled for next year. The organization also announced that it is working with the Wehrenberg Theater chain for a public awareness and fundraising project.
“Without this additional assistance, families would be forced to find other living arrangements, overcrowding our community shelters, residing in combined households, or worst, trying to stay in their homes heating with unsafe or dangerous alternatives,”said Bill Bunch, executive director of the East Missouri Action Agency. This agency covers St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Iron and Madison counties.
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 funds that S.T.E.P., Inc., have received from Heat-Up/Cool Down St. Louis has significantly bridged the gap between the utility companies and the residents of St. Louis County,” said Merline Anderson, Executive Director of S.T.E.P., Inc. “They are making a world of difference in the lives of the families of St. Louis County.”
“The clients we serve at the Urban League throughout the metropolitan area depend on us for utility assistance,” said Doris Jones, vice president of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. “We are grateful that Heat-Up St. Louis is our partner in assisting families.”
And while the energy assistance agency organization is targeting special events fundraising, tax-deductible donations maybe made directly to: Heat-Up St. Louis, Inc., c/o Truman Bank, P.O. Box 9330, St. Louis, MO 63117. Truman Bank is donating all of its banking services. The general public can also give through their MasterCard and Visa by calling 314-241-7668 or by logging in on the Heat-Up St. Louis new web-site at www.heatupstlouis.org.
Trotter said that the diverse board of Heat-Up St. Louis reflects the Christian-Judeo belief of the needy never being forgotten as neighbors must reach out to help other neighbors.
“Last year, the elderly and needy families with children had to battle with the choice of eating and heating due to outrageous high energy costs,” said Trotter. “This year a weakened economy, due in part to the terrorists’ attacks, is going to challenge the needy, and there will be the additional unemployed people who will be looking for assistance. We therefore must refocus our attention on our neighbors and to help avoid dangerous and unhealthy living conditions.”
Heat-Up St. Louis officials again acknowledged the media for their objective coverage of heating and cooling issues in around the St. Louis region, as well as public service support of its organization.
Curt Swearingen and Reverend Earl. E. Nance, Jr., both thanked Lightstream Studio, Barlow Productions and Nova Business Systems, Inc. for their website support. Lightstream donated about $5,000 in design work, and Nova Business Systems, donated a $10,000 internet application. Barlow productions provides donated photography service of all of the Heat-Up St. Louis media events. All three firms are the official sponsors of the www.heatupstlouis.org website.
Heat-Up St. Louis is run by a diverse, all-volunteer board of directors who, along with corporate sponsors, help underwrite all the administrative costs involved in operating the charity, so that every dollar collected is used for heating or cooling grants.
Heat-Up St. Louis reminds those in need of energy assistance to call the following numbers covering the following Illinois and Missouri Counties:
|St. Louis City||314-652-6954||Urban League of St. Louis|
|St. Louis County||314-863-0015||S.T.E.P., Inc.|
|s||314-388-9840||Urban League of St. Louis|
|St. Charles County||636-723-3470||Northeast Community Action|
|Jefferson County||636-931-5859||Catholic Community Services|
|Franklin County||636-390-8300||Loving Hearts|
|Ste. Genevieve, Iron, Madison ||573-431-5191||East Missouri Action Agency|
|Illinois Counties||618-274-1150||Urban League of St. Clair|
|sss||618-398-5616||Catholic Urban Programs of S.I.|
|s||618-463-1906||Urban League of Madison Co.|