BRISTOL — When Kim, an unemployed single mother of four, woke up one morning last week, she discovered that her modest apartment’s oil tank was empty.
“I was so scared,” she recalled. “I didn’t know what I was going to do if I couldn’t get oil. My rent doesn’t include utilities.”
In desperation, Kim called a local community agency that provided oil last month, and while she knew that her family wasn’t eligible to receive additional help, she frantically asked about other available resources in Rhode Island for people who have exhausted all other public and private means of heating assistance.
The concerned mother, whose youngest son suffers from asthma, was given the telephone number for the “Keep the Heat On” program. Two hours after she completed the application, 100 gallons of heating oil was delivered to her home.
“I was surprised that when I called Providence, I was still eligible for help,” Kim said, adding that she initially expected to be rejected because she didn’t live in the city.
“The woman I spoke to was extremely helpful,” she said. “I was amazed that I received the oil so quickly. I am very grateful for the help.”
Kim described the past few months as “horrible.” She tries to stretch the food stamps her family receives as far as she can, but still finds it difficult to feed four growing children, ages 4 to 16.
“Hopefully I will be able to find work soon,” Kim noted, adding that she is completing online courses leading to an associate’s degree in computer science.
“I’m trying,” she emphasized. “It’s tough but we’re managing. I have no transportation so it’s difficult to find work and I really have no idea how I’m doing it.”
The longtime East Bay resident said she recently had to purchase a small electric heater to warm her oldest son’s bedroom.
“There’s no insulation in the walls and it gets cold,” she disclosed. “I just hope my other son doesn’t get sick this winter like he did last year. He was always in the hospital.”
Kim said her family is trying to conserve the oil by wearing heavy sweaters in the house, using less hot water and keeping the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees.
“I am extremely grateful to “Keep the Heat On,” she said. “Hopefully we will be able to make the heat last a month.”