Grant to provide for those struggling to pay heating bills

Sunday, January 29, 2012
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— Increased demand for energy assistance in the Capital Region and outlying communities might not have to go unmet this winter season.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany received a significant grant increase Friday from the National Grid Foundation for its emergency energy assistance to the community. It comes at the outset of a winter season the agency expects to produce a 10 percent increase in demand for the help.

The National Grid Foundation presented the $60,000 grant Friday to Catholic Charities for its Emergency Energy Assistance Fund, an initiative aimed to combat fuel poverty in the Capital Region at a time when heat and utilities are most needed.

The check was the fourth annual grant to the agency, and is expected to help 900 individuals across 300 households in the 14 counties in the Diocese.

Catholic Charities CEO Vincent Colonno said in a news release Friday that the grant will allow the agency to increase its emergency energy response to families and individuals struggling to pay their utility bills this season.

“This special initiative funded by the Foundation looks to the greater community to contribute to this fund so that additional households in the 14-county region can be helped,” said Colonno in the release.

Any contribution is welcome as Catholic Charities continues to receive “last resort” requests for emergency energy assistance, particularly in the depths of winter, the release said.

National Grid Foundation President Bob Keller said he is thankful the relationship with Catholic Charities has helped the community.

“In the face of drastic cuts in government funding, our support of Catholic Charities has never been more critical, and our partnership never more meaningful,” he said in the release.

Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard also weighed in on the importance of the grant increase to the community.

“With poverty rates between 7.5 percent and 17.3 percent in the 14 counties that Catholic Charities serves, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is pleased with the partnership between Catholic Charities and the National Grid Foundation to help provide support to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized in our communities who are experiencing problems with meeting their energy assistance needs,” he said.

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