This past year has been disruptive to many industries and businesses thanks to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago. However, it has posed significant challenges to the nonprofit sector, including organizations such as Oil Heat Cares.
Founded in 1986, Oil Heat Cares (OHC) assists persons and organizations in need with the replacement of their oil heating appliances. Funds are raised to purchase heating equipment through member and partner donations and events — events that were cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
“Last year, the annual OESP convention and trade show, where we usually have our biggest fundraiser, were cancelled,” notes Dave Bessette, chairman of OHC. “Financially, it hurt us — but not too bad.”
The OHC annual Care to Ride fundraiser, which features motorcycles, bicycles, walkers and runners, is usually held in conjunction with OESP’s convention. The last event in 2019 raised more than $20,000 for the organization. Bessette says OHC is trying to put a ride together for 2021.
“This year, the OESP event will be done virtually, but we are trying to put a ride together anyways,” he says. “We have our in-person OESP board of directors meeting in May, but that’s not really enough time to put it together. The meeting is only one day, and we decided it wasn’t a good weekend to hold the ride. We have another board meeting in September, and that will give us a little more time to put a fundraising ride together.”
The effects of the past year were felt in other ways as well. While OHC averages about 12 projects per calendar year, the organization only did five installs in 2020.
“I’m not really sure I can blame the pandemic for that,” Bessette says. “I think it was just an off year. To date in 2021, we’ve already done seven installs.”
Projects are presented to the board by OESP members, who identify those within their communities that need a helping hand. Then, OESP member companies donate their time and labor to install the equipment at no cost to the homeowner or organization.
Bessette notes OHC’s goals for 2021 are to continue on helping those in need.
“We want to keep going along the way we have been,” he says. “We find people who need our help and help them when we can. All our members are volunteers and enjoy helping others.”
Senior volunteer receives new boiler
Micki McCabe has been working and volunteering with the non-profit, Connecticut Braille, helping the blind for many years. At 83 years old, she is still working, though she has not received a salary since January 2020.
McCabe’s 40-year-old boiler needed to be replaced, and she found herself with no extra funds. Rob Capri of Gault Energy contacted Oil Heat Cares for help. F.W. Webb Co. donated a TRIO triple pass boiler to replace the existing failing boiler. The domestic hot water was provided by a direct red Bock water heater. An extra zone was left for a future indirect water heater.
Dear Oil Heat Cares,
I am so sorry to be so late in expressing my sincere thanks to the wonderful team from Oil Heat Cares that replaced my oil burner. It is such a relief to not worry that my old burner might not make it through the winter. Neal and the team of workers were so thoughtful and reminded me of Christmas Elves. They explained the timeframe for what they would do and were right on schedule. I am overwhelmed by this special gift and those who made it possible. It was a true gift that keeps on giving. I shall always remember my 83rd birthday and this special Christmas. (They were only a few days apart!)
Please convey my gratitude to all those wonderful gentlemen who brought this special gift to my home.
OHC steps up for retired South Jersey veteran
Oil Heat Cares stepped in to help homeowner Danny Sowinsky, a retired U.S. Navy veteran. Scott Vadino, HVAC regional technical support for F.W. Webb Co., an auxiliary member of the local VFW post was contacted by them about Sowinsky’s situation.
“About a year before we replaced the tank, the VFW reached out to me — Danny had no heat for about two weeks, going right up into Thanksgiving,” Vadino says. “He had a company out there a few times, but they couldn’t get it running and he couldn’t afford repairs, so they called me. I went out there, bought the parts myself and put them on. But when I saw the tank and the shape it was in, I knew he would be a good candidate for OHC. I recommended him to get his tank replaced.”
Sowinsky’s tank — 275 gallons, and at least 30 years old — was up on blocks leaning against his home. F.W. Webb Co. ended up donating all the equipment and materials for the replacement. Vadino and his coworkers Brian Bartlett and Luis Orta, with help from Orta’s son Giovanni Orta, installed a Granby Eco Plus tank. The permits and a temporary 55-gallon drum were donated by Harriett’s Energy Solutions.
“Though the project was approved before then, Danny had a full tank of oil, which I don’t transfer, so I was working with him to run it down low,” Vadino notes. “We also didn’t want him to lose money on the oil. Eventually, once it got low enough, I pumped it into the 55 gallon drum, and put his heat on that. Once we had the new tank in, we had it filled, so when the 55 gallon drum got low, all I did was go back and switch the oil line.
“This is probably the sixth project I’ve done personally — it was a great opportunity to help somebody else out,” he adds.
Pennsylvania woman stays warm
Joann Ott of West Chester, Pennsylvania, was appreciative to have a warm home this holiday season.
Ott is the one of many recipients of the generosity of Oil Heat Cares (OHC), through the Delaware Valley Chapter of OESP.
Ott, who is 86 years old, lives on a fixed income, suffers with COPD and heart ailments and was released from the hospital to find that her oil tank — original to the 1960 home — needed to be replaced.
The tank and pipe fittings were all donated by F. W. Webb in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The work was performed by D.E. Duffy and Sons, and Wackenhut.
OHC helps family in need
Kevin and Margaret Eldridge live in Naugatuck, Connecticut, have been married 38 years and have two sons and seven grandchildren.
Kevin Eldridge was diagnosed with leukemia eight years ago. Since that time, he has had a liver transplant and many struggles in his recovery. He also lost his job and has not been able to work.
Unfortunately, Kevin Eldridge discovered his outside above-ground steel tank was leaking. The leak was able to be contained with minimal environmental impact. Upon further investigation, it was determined the boiler needed replacement along with the oil tank. This would have been a huge expense for the family, who was already struggling financially to survive. Fortunately, Oil Heat Cares was able to step in.
This project would not have been possible without the initial efforts of Tony Rottella, Sue Lafavre and Carl Lafavre from Thurston, along with Danny Gentile and John Mowad from Torrco. The work continued with leadership from Greg Gilbertson and Marty Briganti of Standard Oil, combined with the participation of their team: Jason Bonet, Jason Bonet Jr. and Steve Rosa of Standard Oil, as well as Bart Liquigli and Chris Rodriguez of Complete Tank and Marc Kuczo and Don McDonald of Rural Fuels.
Thank you to John Dunleavy of Carlin Hydrolevel for arranging the donation of the burner and the cap system. And thank you to Fred Maria at Roth for donating the tank.
The Eldridge family are forever grateful.
OHC is always looking for members, volunteers and donations. Those interested in making a tax detectable donation can visit www.oilheatcares.com and click the “Make a Donation” button, or write a check to Oil Heat Cares. Or interested parties can donate time and talent by identifying a project for a customer or neighbor in need, donating equipment or supplies or by participating in an OHC fundraiser.
Editor’s Note: Nicole Krawcke contributed to this report.