As frigid temps bring concern, diocese helps those struggling to 'Keep the Heat On'

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PROVIDENCE — Recent cold weather throughout New England has brought concern for those who struggle to stay warm throughout the most frigid days during Rhode Island winters.

As the weather took a sharp turn over the past couple of weeks, the diocese saw a rise in “Keep the Heat On” requests, said Jim Jahnz, program coordinator.

“Staff here worked incredibly hard to meet the needs of those households who were facing the prospect of a lack of heat in their homes, especially when we were faced with bad weather over the holiday weekend.”
Jahnz added that staff monitored the “Keep the Heat On” telephone line over the weekend and during the holiday to ensure that emergencies were met.

Founded by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin in 2005, the KTHO program has raised more than $2.95 million to help more than 13,000 Rhode Island families and individuals with nowhere else to turn to keep warm during the winter.
Last Wednesday, Bishop Tobin said that with the near freezing temperatures, the “Keep the Heat On” program is as important as ever.

“This morning I’m praying for all the folks in our country dealing with historic-low, frigid, dangerous temperatures. May they be safe and warm. A good time to check on your neighbors, and don’t forget to care for your pets,” the bishop said in a message.
The program continues to have an immense impact on the lives of Rhode Islanders. Funding for the program comes from the Catholic Charity Appeal and generous donations from parishes, businesses and individuals. Many work hard to give in unique ways, such as students who raise funds through school-wide dress down days and parishes that held special fundraisers for the program.

The winter weather and wind chill has also impacted operations at the diocesan homeless shelter, Emmanuel House, located in South Providence.

“Because of the harsh weather, the shelter has remained open under 24-hour operations on several occasions over the past couple of weeks,” said Jahnz.

The Diocese of Providence opened Emmanuel House three days before Christmas in 2010. Since then, there has been rarely a night when the 50-bed shelter has not been at or above capacity.

“For programs like “Keep the Heat On” and the work being done at the Emmanuel House shelter, they take on an even more increased significance during dangerous weather.”

If you would like to help local families this winter, please send tax-deductible donations to:

“Keep the Heat On,” One Cathedral Square, Providence, RI, 02903.

A text donation of $10 can also be made by texting the word HEAT to 27722 or a $25 donation by texting the word HEATRI to 27722.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please visit the website at www.heatri.com or call 401-421-7833 for more information.

To learn more about the many services that Emmanuel House offers, please visit www.dioceseofprovidence.org/homeless-shelter.