Providing assistance to those in need - offering someone a hot meal and a safe place to sleep, donating time or money to aid in the aftermath of a natural disaster, providing disabled veterans and their families with an accessible home or helping neighbors keep the heat on during the winter - is a long-time tradition in this country. Whether through church, a social group or business organization, we’ve all volunteered to help others at some point in our lives. Not only does helping others make our own lives better, it helps strengthen our communities.
And community is important to Oil Heat Cares (www.oilheatcares.com). Chapter members of the National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers donate time, equipment and installation expertise each year to local families who can’t afford to repair or replace their old boilers and are living without heat or hot water. Without them, many busted boilers would stay busted.
Most Oil Heat Cares projects start with a routine “no heat” service call where techs find heating systems too old or too dangerous, or with neighbors and family members concerned about an elderly or disabled homeowner. Applications are filed, quickly reviewed and approved, and equipment is secured, mostly through donations from member manufacturers and suppliers. NAOHSM Chairperson Judy Garber, who oversees the OHC program, makes sure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Contractors then spend some of their free time installing the new equipment and removing the old. Competitors work side-by-side on the jobsite with a common goal.
This month, PM highlights three chapters that were Oil Heat Cares champions in their communities in the last year.
Garden State ChapterThe Special Wishes Foundation of Union, N.J., a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to helping individuals and families facing medical or economic crises who are not on public assistance. And the recent recession has brought more people to its door, says CEO Sandra Reppert. Staffing is by volunteers, including Reppert, so all funds go directly to provide food, clothing and financial assistance.
The organization, which began in 1993, is housed in a home built in 1929. Reppert has used George Jaekel Inc. to provide oil for the home’s oil-fired boiler for many years. “We would have changed to gas by now if it weren’t for Doug, our delivery person,” she says. “He is the nicest oil delivery man in the world; he deserves an award for everything he’s done for us.”
In January, the Special Wishes Foundation came to the attention of Charley Holmes, president of NAOHSM’s Garden State Chapter and sales manager at J.W. Pierson Co. in East Orange, N.J., as a potential Oil Heat Cares project. Jeff Van Kirk from West Side Plumbing Supply (Hillside, N.J.) told Holmes one of George Jaekel Inc.’s customers was in dire need of a new boiler.
Because the foundation uses all its funds to help others, it had no means to replace the boiler. The project was approved, and on a Saturday morning, several men from competing businesses gathered at the house to remove the old boiler and replace it with a new Peerless EC-03 steam boiler and an automatic feeder (donated from West Side Supply).
Involved in the project were: Tony Tedesco and Carmine Tedesco from George Jaekel; Paul Cuprewich and Ed Postal from Woolley Fuel Co., (Maplewood, N.J.); Pat McDonald from Hilltop Fuel (Fairfield, N.J.); Joe Harazim from Heat Solutions (New Providence, N.J.); Holmes and Van Kirk.
Tony Tedesco took the lead on the project, while Holmes was the official food supplier to the crew. It had recently snowed, so Harazim and the Heat Solutions crew shoveled snow to clear a path for workers. Once the old boiler came out, they brought the new boiler down to the basement.
“Some people we talk to think Oil Heat Cares is a scam,” Holmes notes. “I patiently explain to them what it is really about and that we just want to help.”
The staff at Special Wishes Foundation is grateful to Oil Heat Cares and the workers who made their home warm again.
“We trusted the organization because of our trust in our oil company,” Reppert explains. “We’re very happy with the results.”
The Garden State Chapter aligned itself with OHC the moment it took its first breath in 2004. Over the years, it’s completed about 15 projects.
“We have a great core group of guys,” Holmes says, “especially Paul Cuprewich, who is now on the national board. I promote OHC whenever I can to chapter members.” [Plumbing & Mechanical named Cuprewich an OHC all-star in the May 2009 issue.]
Long Island Oil Heating And Cooling ProfessionalsInstead of replacing an old boiler in a home, NAOHSM’s Long Island Oil Heating and Cooling Professionals Chapter (formerly the Nassau-Suffolk Chapter) last fall installed a new boiler in a new home. Bob O’Brien, president of Technical Heating (Mount Sinai, N.Y.) heard about a Long Island family that not only needed a new boiler, but a new house.
James and Christine Shaljian of Mount Sinai had a severe mold problem in their 600-square-foot, two-bedroom home. James Shaljian, who has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, was forced to move out of the family home and into a small cottage in the backyard because of a compromised immune system. His wife and four daughters stayed in the main home.
The family was nominated to appear on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” but was not chosen. Local contractors who had worked on several “Extreme Makeover” projects formed the nonprofit group Building Hope for Long Island (http://buildinghopeforli.org) specifically to help the Shaljians and give them a new home. Donations of money, building materials and labor were needed to complete the project.
O’Brien’s son graduated from high school with the oldest Shaljian daughter. And his son’s third-grade teacher was helping to raise money for the project. O’Brien saw her at the post office and she told him about the family and what they needed. He offered to contact Oil Heat Cares about the heating system.
OHC has a $2,500 budget for each replacement job. Since this would be new construction, the price ticket would be higher. “We were able to obtain quite a lot of equipment donations to stay under budget,” O’Brien notes.
Donated equipment included:
- Oil tank - Roth USA.
- Boiler - Boyertown Furnace.
- Indirect water heater - Amtrol.
- Oil burner and AquaSmart boiler control - R.W. Beckett.
- Pumps - Grundfos Pumps (and rep Venco Sales of Huntington, N.Y.).
- Controls and pumps - Honeywell (and rep Venco Sales).
Local oil company Hart Petroleum (Deer Park, N.Y.) filled up the oil tank with biofuel B5, a mixture of biofuel and heating oil. In addition, the Town of Brookhaven waived all fees associated with the demolition of the old house and construction of the new house.
It took about two days to install the heating system with volunteers from the Long Island chapter, O’Brien says.
Winter storms and freezing temperatures set construction back about a month, the North Shore Sun reports, but the home is almost complete. It contains about 2,200 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, a dining room, family room, living room, kitchen and 2 1/2 bathrooms.
The family has been living in a $2,000-a-month rental in Mount Sinai, paid for by an anonymous benefactor from New York City, while BHLI builds their new home.
New York City ChapterIt was a custody battle that got NAOHSM’s New York City Chapter involved in it’s most recent OHC project. Michelle Greene was a fuel oil customer of Combind Oil (Bronx, N.Y.). Her boiler had failed and was leaking, so she had no heat or hot water. She contacted Combind in October 2010.
“The boiler was under warranty and the manufacturer was willing to replace it, but she couldn’t even pay for the labor,” says Angel Gonzalez, service manager at Combind and a member of the NYC Chapter.
A further complication involved her tenant, a single father who was in danger of losing custody of his three boys because of the lack of heat. Greene’s financial situation was precarious after having cared for her ailing mother, who had recently died.
Several weeks after her initial call, Greene contacted Combind again to ask for help. The expense of replacing the boiler was more than she could afford, but the impending court date of Greene’s tenant made the situation even more dire. Gonzalez knew this was a perfect fit for Oil Heat Cares. The approval process was fast-tracked and the new equipment was installed in December.
Gonzalez contacted Combind’s new parent company, Petroleum Heat & Power Co. (Petro), about participating in the project. “Petro was very gracious and was able to negotiate for a new boiler and burner instead of just the warranty replacement parts,” he notes.
The old equipment was replaced with a Granby oil tank, a Burnham boiler from Blackman Plumbing (Bayport, N.Y.), and pipe and fittings from Westchester Square Plumbing Supply in the Bronx. Technicians from Combind Oil and Petro donated the labor to install the new heating system before the holidays.