PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- With skyrocketing heating bills this winter, Citizens Bank and Citizens Energy Corporation announced today a partnership to help defray this seasons heating costs at area homeless shelters. Heating costs have increased as much as 40% this winter, resulting in budget strains on critical programs and services offered to the homeless at area shelters.
The Citizens Bank Foundation will be providing a $175,000 lead gift to the campaign to assist homeless shelters in each state in paying their winter heating bills. In addition, Citizens is opening all its branches throughout New England to collect donations from customers and the general public to accept additional funds. Donations will be accepted at al 467 Citizens Bank branches throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire between now and March 31, 2005.
In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the funds will support Citizens Energy’s Shelter Winter Assistance Program, which provide heating assistance to homeless shelters, enabling them to spend less of their limited resources on energy costs and more on services to homeless families and individuals.
In Rhode Island, Citizens Bank is also partnering with The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless on this project and has pledged $50,000 toward the effort. The Coalition will distribute the funds to area homeless shelters. Rhode Island shelters that will benefit from the donations are: New Hope Emergency Shelter in Pawtucket, Interim House in Providence, Rhode Island Family Shelter in Warwick, Warwick House of Hope, Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown, Amos House in Providence, Welcome House of South County, WARM Shelter in Westerly, Woonsocket Shelter, Crossroads RI in Providence, Blackstone Valley Advocacy center in Pawtucket, Elizabeth Buffam Chace House in Warwick, Sojourner House in Providence, Women’s Center of RI, Women’s Resource center of Newport and Bristol Counties, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Advent House in Providence, and Galilee Mission to Fishermen in Narragansett.
“Citizens Bank is an outstanding corporate citizen that never forgets the needs of the most vulnerable in our society,” said citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II. “Our partnership will help expand the Shelter Winter Assistance Program and make a significant difference in allowing shelters to direct more of their precious resources towards individuals and families in dire need of assistance.”
Rhode Island shelters expect to see a significant increase in heating costs this year over last. The latest numbers on homelessness in Rhode Island are staggering. In 2004, more than 6,000 Rhode Islanders sought emergency shelter, a record number for the third year in a row. The number of families needing shelter last year rose 8% to nearly 800, while the number of children living in shelters rose 8% to more than 1,500.
“Citizens Energy has been a leader addressing the energy needs of those less fortunate in our region for more than a decade. This partnership was a natural for Citizens Bank and through our participation we hope to expand the SWAP program to cover the additional funds needed this year by New England’s homeless shelters,” said Joseph J. MarcAurele, President & CEO of Citizens Bank of Rhode Island. “We encourage all those who wish to contribute to stop by any Citizens Bank branch in New England to show their support. Together, we can help ensure our shelters are able to continue providing their services to those who need them most.”
“The Citizens Bank Foundation donation and the help of follow Rhode Islanders will liberally mean more food on the table at our shelters and more services for our clients,” said Noreen Shawcross, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. “When our operating expenses rise, the first things to suffer are service and meals. Thanks to Citizens, those staying at area shelters will continue to have a meal, stay warm and be able to benefit from additional services to help them find permanent housing.”
Other housing partners across New England who received funding grants from Citizens Bank Foundation include: MASSCAP in Massachusetts, which received $50,000; the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness in New Hampshire, which received $50,000; and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness in Connecticut, which received $25,000.