Throughout the year, members of the National Association of Oil and Energy Service Professionals - through the Oil Heat Cares program - identify and assist families in their communities who are in need of new oil-heat equipment yet cannot pay for the equipment or installation costs. These families may be living without heat or hot water.
Many 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. NAOESP Chairperson Judy Garber, who oversees the OHC program, makes sure the process runs as smooth as possible.
Each May at the annual convention, the Oil Heat Cares Cup is awarded to a chapter, individual or group that has done extraordinary work on behalf of Oil Heat Cares. In 2011, three different parties shared the cup - Don Farrell, publisher of Indoor Comfort Marketing, for his idea and support of OHC’s major fundraiser, the Care to Ride event; and the Long Island Oilheating and Cooling Professionals and the Delaware Valley chapters for their continual support of customers in their areas.
This month, Plumbing & Mechanical highlights three chapters that were Oil Heat Cares champions in their communities in the last year.
New Hampshire/Vermont ChapterJason Kohm, Northeast sales manager at Delavan Spray Technologies, worked on his first Oil Heat Cares project last year for family friend Karen Gallagher. Her 35-year-old boiler, the original one in the Litchfield, N.H., house, died on her and she had no hot water. Gallagher’s 10-year-old daughter Gillian is one of Kohm’s 10-year-old daughter Lauren’s best friends.
“Luckily it was the summer time or she would have had no heat,” he says. “She knew I was in the industry and asked if I could help her out, if I knew anybody that could help her with the install and maybe save her some money.”
Gallagher, a single mom who had battled and survived breast cancer twice, had, like many people, tried to save up money to replace her old boiler, but something more urgent would come up that she needed the money for.
Kohm was at a NAOESP trade show talking with Garber when he mentioned his friend and her problem.
“Judy said that Karen was someone that OHC would love to help,” he recalls. “I was familiar with Oil Heat Cares program because of the benefits and other things it does to raise money. So I filled out the application and Karen became an OHC recipient within 24 hours.”
Kohm’s next step was to assemble a team of installers to do the project. Another friend of his, Bob Maynard, is a licensed heating technician who just happened to be one of the original bidders on Gallagher’s boiler replacement.
Kohm was attending another trade show when he bumped into Maynard and his cousin, Joe Bell, a local licensed plumber. “I told Bob that Karen was approved for OHC,” Kohm says. “The first words out of his mouth were ‘I’m in.’ And in the next breath, Joe says ‘I’m in, too.’”
Kohm and Maynard bought the boiler, burner, fittings and other parts for the job with the OHC funds. Redlon in Johnson (Nashua, N.H.) provided the Columbia boiler at a discount. Maynard and Bell then donated their time to remove the old heating system and install the new equipment.
“It was my first OHC project,” Maynard says. “It was a good time, a good learning experience and I enjoyed it. It feels good to give back every now and then.”
Gallagher came home from work to find her new boiler being installed.
“Karen was pretty much in tears and couldn’t thank us enough,” Kohm says. “Bob said she wouldn’t be able to get through the next winter. She’s a good person who needed a break. And we were able to help her out, which was great.”
Long Island Oil Heating and Cooling ProfessionalsBob O’Brien, president of Technical Heating, got a call about an Oil Heat Cares job courtesy of this magazine.
“Plumbing & Mechanical did a story last year on a job we did and a group called the Long Island Business Institute called me to see if I could help them,” he remarks.
The group, through its charitable arm Long Island Home Builders Care, was planning to build a number of homes in various communities for veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. Local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters interview candidates, who will be able to buy the homes at a reduced rate.
The first home was to be built for Staff Sergeant Omar Domenich, who served three tours in the Middle East - two in Iraq and one in Kuwait. He also helped victims during Hurricane Katrina.
His National Guard unit was one of the first responders after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, performing perimeter security and searching buildings for the wounded. After this experience, he joined the active duty Army full time. He was wounded by mortar rounds in his second deployment in Iraq and received a Purple Heart for his injuries, as well as a Combat of Action Badge for engaging and being engaged by the enemy.
Honorably discharged in June 2009, he moved back to New York City and got married; he and his wife have two children. He is now a social woker helping other veterans, especially those who are homeless.
LIBI contacted O’Brien last June and asked if he was interested in participating. They hadn’t broken ground yet on the house and he didn’t hear back from the group until just a couple of weeks before the house was to be moved into.
“They thought they had someone to do it, but there was some confusion so they called to see if OHC could pick it up from that point,” he recalls. Of course, OHC approved the project and O’Brien’s team of 12 installed the donated heating equipment in the new home, including a Buderus oil-fired boiler and indirect water heater. The oil tank was donated and the oil was delivered free of charge. About seven companies donated equipment and parts.
“Omar was quite emotional about the house,” O’Brien says. “They had a dedication and he and his family moved in on Veteran’s Day.”
Mid-Atlantic ChapterGlen Robinson, service manager at Warthen Fuel Co., also is the chapter’s vice president. He found out that one of Warthen’s customers for more than 50 years, Joan Brittingham of Baltimore, needed help because her 50-year-old furnace had died. Brittingham lives by herself on a very fixed income.
“I had to help her,” Robinson says. “At one of our meetings I asked about Oil Heat Cares. I hooked up with Judy Garber and got the project approved. At the next monthly meeting I asked for young volunteers to do the job as education. I volunteered to oversee the job.”
The three volunteers were from three different companies - Wyatt Runciman from Parker Fuel, Matt Hodge from Griffin Energy and Fred Gifford from Warthen Fuel. The three companies are friendly competitors.
Robinson asked each technician what he could do, then assigned them a different job. “They had never met before but worked well together,” Robinson notes. “It was a good experience for them, to teach them about giving back to the community.”
The replacement oil furnace was an Olson Highboy donated by R.E. Michel Co. at a discounted rate. Warthen Fuel supplied the balance of the material since Brittingham was a Warthen customer.
Brittingham’s reaction to her new oil furnace? Very happy and thankful!