Oil Heat Cares, a not-for-profit program of the National Association of Oil and Energy Service Professionals (OESP), allows members to identify financially strapped or otherwise challenged families and organizations in their communities that need new oil-heat equipment. Manufacturers and distributors either donate product or offer it at significant discounts, and contractors perform installations and repairs at no cost to the homeowners.
“Many members of OESP take part in Oil Heat Cares, which is designed to help out those less fortunate when they cannot afford new oil-heating systems,” says Patrick Boyle, operations manager for Boyle Energy (Havertown, Pa.), a member of the Delaware Valley Chapter of OESP. Boyle is treasurer of the chapter. “Our mission is to find current and potential consumers who have come across unexpected circumstances and truly need help. OHC is dedicated to providing the warmth and security that everyone deserves.”
As Boyle sees it, OHC also strengthens the industry by teaming up oil heat professionals from all aspects of the industry. “Whether it is an equipment supplier, an owner or a service technician, they are all teaming up to benefit others in need,” he explains. “It is common to see local competitors working together to accomplish a common goal, or to see a group of current employees spending time during the weekend to help out an oil-heat customer going through a tough time.”
Al Breda, the current national president of OESP, is the service manager at Sippin Energy Products (Monroe, Conn.), a member of OESP’s Fairfield County Chapter.
“I have been with OESP since 1993, and my employer has always been supportive of the organization and the activities of our employees in the organization,” he says. “In fact, Sippin has allowed me to do a number of jobs in three states, in terms of taking a tech, using a truck and taking the day off to do projects.”
In terms of OHC projects in general, Breda has never felt that he wasted a day. “There have been times when the projects were inconvenient or we didn’t think we could fit them into our schedules, but I have never regretted the time we put in,” he says.
Fairfield County Chapter
Sippin Energy Products began business in 1919, starting out delivering coal, gasoline and kerosene. It now provides a wide range of heating and cooling products and services to customers in southwestern Connecticut — including Newtown.
When company managers saw the names of the 20 children who were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting last December, they realized that four or five were children of customers. “We flagged their accounts so we would be aware of the situation,” Breda notes. “For example, if they owed us money, we wouldn’t send out a notice. We would just make sure they got their deliveries.”
One of the families, the Bardens, has been a Sippin Energy customer for a number of years. Their son, Daniel, 7, was one of the 20 Sandy Hook children.
Mark Barden called Sippen after hours to say he had a water leak in his boiler. Technician William McNamarawas on call that night. He made the repairs but realized the boiler was on its last legs.
“Normally, he would have suggested the customer consider a new boiler,” Breda explains. “Instead, he called Operations Manager and Vice President Gary Sippin, who then called me and asked how we could get a new boiler for the family at no cost to them. It was a perfect Oil Heat Cares project.”
Breda called Roger Marran, president of Energy Kinetics, with whom Sippin Energy does business. “Oil Heat Cares usually has a $2,500 cost cap on projects,” Breda notes. “If I went with an Energy Kinetics boiler, it would have been more than $2,500. However, Roger said he would donate the boiler and water heater.”
With the more-efficient boiler, it was important to re-line the chimney, so Breda called Connecticut Chimney and Vent, a well-known company in the area. He talked with Jim Jaffe, owner and service manager, and asked if he would do the work at a discount. Jaffe went one better and donated parts and labor.
Around that same time, Breda was talking with Brian Coyne, vice president of sales at Roth Industries, about another family affected by the Sandy Hook shooting, who had twin oil tanks that were leaking, to see if Roth would donate some tanks.
“While talking with Brian, I mentioned we were going to do the Barden job,” Breda says. “He asked why I hadn’t called him about an oil tank for them, too. I explained it was their boiler that was leaking, not their oil tank. He donated a new 2,000-gal., double-wall oil tank anyway.”
Two Sippin employees, Adam Schmittand McNamara, as well as Breda, performed the labor. Jason Dayton, who runs JBD Services, a sheet metal contractor, also helped out.
While everyone was glad they were able to help, it was not an easy day for anyone. “You could see the pain in the eyes of the father, the mother and the two other children, but they all thanked us,” Breda says.
In a letter to OESP, the Bardens expressed their gratitude: “We don’t know how to adequately express our gratitude for all you did for us regarding the new boiler install. Our family is warm thanks to your generosity … You have helped restore our faith in humanity.”
Delaware Valley Chapter
Boyle Energy began business in 1937 selling oil with one truck and a toolbox. It now specializes in heating oil and HVAC contracting. The company has been involved in the OHC program for a number of years. Patrick Boyle, the third-generation owner, is the current treasurer of the Delaware Valley Chapter of OESP.
“When we run into a situation where someone needs new equipment but doesn’t have the money, we take the need to OHC,” he says. “Almost every project we have suggested has been green-lighted.”
One recent project was Philadelphia’s Southwest Community Enrichment Center, which provides free art classes for children, a computer center and other enrichment programs for people of all ages. The heater in the building failed and the center didn’t have the funds to replace it. As a result, it was unable to open the art center for the children during the cold-weather months.
“We have been servicing that property for years,” Boyle says. “One of our techs learned about the problem and we took it to OHC.”
Boyle Energy was able to install an oil-fired furnace, along with some sheet metal work. Ed Mooreat Weinstein Supply provided a Crown oil-fired furnace at a good discount. The installation was handled by Wayne Thomas, service/installation technician; Ian Downey, oil driver; and Rich Sanderson, service/maintenance technician.
“Oil Heat Cares helped us in every way we could possibly imagine,” says Katie Cofey, executive director of the Southwest Community Enrichment Center. “It meant the world to us. Our budget is almost nonexistent, so we could not have afforded the new equipment ourselves. We have had the art program since 1990 and it is nice to be able to continue it in the winter. The children really look forward to being at the center.”
Griffith Energy Services (Frederick, Md.) has been providing residential heating fuels, commercial motor fuels, and heating and cooling systems in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1898.
The company has been involved in the OHC program for a number of years, and Michael Hodge, regional service manager for Griffith, is president of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of OESP and treasurer of the national organization.
Last year, Hodge received a call from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, of which Hodge also is a member. The group had heard about a need in West Virginia through the Wounded Warrior Project. Kevin Sawyer, a wounded vet who also has cancer, needed new heating equipment. “Once I heard about the need through ACCA, we got to work on it,” Hodge says.
Griffith Energy arranged for the Baxter Group to remove the asbestos from the old boiler at Sawyer’s home in Summit Point, W. Va. A new boiler, a convector and an oil tank were installed. The tech installers were Rick Crum, Nick Ghanayem, Tony Cassidyand Chris Sensenbaugh.
“It was a two-day project at the home of Kevin and his wife,” Hodge says. “They were very appreciative and happy with the results.”
About the author: William Atkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.