CAMDEN, N.J. – Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II today joined with CITGO Petroleum President Alejandro Granado to launch the 7th year of their heating oil partnership to provide fuel assistance to needy families in 25 states.
The program was launched with a delivery of fuel to the Camden, N.J., row-house of a grandmother living on a limited income. Kennedy and Granado, aided by Camden Mayor Dana Redd, pulled the hose from a Royal Oil fuel truck to provide a fill to Arlene Grier, who raised three children in the home on South Merrimac Road.
“I want to thank CITGO and Citizens so much,” said Grier. “This helps a lot. Prices are going up but not my income, so I’m always having to decide between paying for food, heat, electricity, gas, or my mortgage. I wish other oil companies were as generous.”
Nationally, the program will help more than 400,000 people, including members of over 60 Native American tribes, families living in over 350 tenant-owned cooperatives, residents of over 250 homeless shelters, and thousands of single-family households.
“CITGO is very proud to mark the seventh anniversary of our Heating Oil Program. Increasing energy costs continue to affect the quality of life for millions of people and impact community organizations that provide critical social services. As an energy company, we believe it is our obligation to use the strength of our resources to help alleviate the burden for those struggling to pay for home heating costs,” said Granado.
CITGO partners with Citizens Energy Corporation, a nonprofit created in 1979 by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, to implement the program. Citizens Energy, which has used successful ventures in the energy and health care industries to finance charitable programs in the U.S. and abroad, has provided energy assistance to families in need for over 30 years.
“Senior citizens and low-income families are facing a terrible hardship this winter,” said Kennedy. “Heating oil prices are close to record levels, while federal fuel assistance has been cut by more than a half. Households that got over $1,000 in assistance two years ago will be getting less than half that this season –- barely enough for half a tank of oil.”
Kennedy said he approached major U.S. oil companies and oil-producing nations asking them to assist the poor in bearing the burden of rising energy costs. “They all said no,” said Kennedy, “except for CITGO and the people of Venezuela.”
Since 2005, CITGO has invested more than $400 million in energy assistance to those in need last year alone, more than $60 million in heating oil was donated to low-income families and individuals. With higher costs for heating oil and reduced government funding for energy assistance programs, the need this year is greater than ever.
Also in attendance were beneficiaries of the initiative’s shelter, building, and tribal assistance programs.
"This oil program has been the best thing to happen to us because it frees up dollars to feed more people. During the summer people don’t mind staying outside, but during the cold winter months, they turn to us. Citizens Energy's program allows us to provide a safe and comfortable environment for some of our most vulnerable citizens," said Edna Williams, Director of the Mary Jane Home Enrichment Center, a Philadelphia homeless shelter that has received heat from the program for several seasons.
Gwendolyn Moody, board president of Riverview Towers in New York, a five-year participant in the tenant-owned cooperative program, said, "Through CITGO's contributions to Riverview Towers, we've been able to save 10-15 percent on our oil costs. This program has also enabled us to complete roof fan installations and many other energy efficiency upgrades in our building."
“As the nation continues to recover from the global economic recession, I am delighted to see that CITGO and Citizens Energy Corporation will once again provide many eligible working families and seniors with free heating oil this winter,” said Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd. “Thanks to the generosity of CITGO and Citizens Energy, eligible participants will not need to make a decision between paying for heating oil or food for their families. I highly encourage eligible families to apply as soon as possible to this wonderful program.”
A reception following the oil delivery was held in the Malandra Hall Community Center, in the same room where then-Senator John F. Kennedy campaigned for the presidency in 1960.
Families struggling to pay for home heating oil can call Citizens Energy at 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-563-4645) to see if they are eligible for heating oil assistance. If approved, the household will receive an authorization letter and details on how to arrange for a one-time delivery of 100 free gallons of oil.