Despite the freezing cold and unrelenting winter this year, the members of Oil & Energy Service Professionals still found time to help those who had heating problems through the association’s Oil Heat Cares program. Oil Heat Cares is a nonprofit foundation created to assist families and organizations who need to replace their oil-heating appliances but do not have the financial means to do so. Contractors, fuel oil dealers and OESP chapters are all involved.

“Oil Heat Cares’ mission is to find current and potential consumers who have come across unexpected circumstances and truly need help,” says David Bessette, chairperson of the OHC board. “OHC is dedicated to providing the warmth and security that everyone deserves.”

The projects are usually identified by chapter members or dealers who have customers in need of help getting new oil-heating equipment. Many of the OESP chapters donate to the organization, whether it is sponsoring a member to participate in the annual Care to Ride event or donating profits from a chapter social event.

This year, OESP and OHC will host Care to Ride May 18, in conjunction with the OESP’s 61st convention and trade show May 17-21 at Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pa. “We have different groups who participate — including cyclists, motorcyclists, runners and walkers,” Bessette says.“Many of the industry manufacturers are outstanding supporters of the event as well. And as it is a 501(c)(3) organization, donations are tax deductible.”

In addition to team building, 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,” Bessette explains. “It is common to see local competitors work 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.”

An educational tool

The Westchester Chapter worked with the students of Saunders Trades and Technical High School in Yonkers, N.Y., to replace an oil tank in Teresa Paliwoda’s home. Lance Marino, service manager for Town and Country Oil Corp. in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., brought this project to the attention of chapter members and many were glad to volunteer their time: Bryan Gettlerwith Inter County Supply Co. in Portchester, N.Y.; Charlie Masonefrom manufacturer Beckett Corp.; and Roger Wendlingfrom Pleasantville-based Kent Supply. Robert Daros, owner of Croton Falls, N.Y.-based Heritage Fuel, donated the oil tank.

Billy Kessler, oil driver for Town and Country Oil, explained to the students the responsibilities of delivering heating oil and showed them how to fill the home’s oil tank.

Students were instructed to replace a 275-gal., 26-in. tank with a 275-gal., 42-in. steel Granby oil tank in the home’s basement. The students — Jamal Lee, Joshua Espinal, Dominic Justo, Patrick Loaneand Christian Velez— were guided by Marino; Louis Rocco, retired from the New York Fire Department and who specializes in boiler and tank removals; and Thomas Sabia, a teacher at Saunders Trades and Technical High School.

Students cut the pipe connected to the old tank and installed new pipe and fittings. Once it was all connected and the tank was filled, they primed the burner. Before leaving they made sure it was all working correctly and efficiently.

“I learned a lot that day,” Lee says. “I had the opportunity to connect the hose from the oil truck onto the fill line of the oil tank. I learned if you allow too much pressure, there’s a chance you may end up moving the tank.”

Loane was able to experience and learn how to remove sludge, cut the old oil tank to pieces in order to remove it safely and install the new oil tank.

Justo also learned much from the experience. “It was easier than I thought it would be,” he says. “Louis had a good and fun way of handling and teaching us.”

Espinal adds: “Learning in the field gives you a realistic perspective of what you learn in the classroom shop.”

Velez agrees, stating he learned more in the field than he would have learned in the shop. “In class we have all of our tools and equipment, but out in the field you may not have everything you need, so you have to work with what you have,” he notes.

The students extend their thanks to everyone involved in making this project happen and inviting them to participate.They believe it would be a great learning experience for more students interested in this trade.

“OHC has turned into an educational tool,” Bessette notes. “Students have worked side-by-side with industry professionals, learned valuable skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives and learned what it feels like to give back to their communities.”

Helping the VFW

The Mt. Holly, N.J.-based VFW Post No. 2692 had an oil-heating system that was old, highly inefficient and needed replacement. New Jersey Chapter members Scott Vadino, Robert Collins, John Wallace, and Jim Hutchisonof Medford, N.J.-based Harriett’s Energy Solutions, took a look and found a boiler more than 50 years old with two separate water heaters — one of which was an oil water heater more than 20 years old.

Jeffand Gina King, as well as Joe Gladu, from Bristol, Pa.-based wholesale distributor Tom Antonelli Inc. donated the boiler — a Buderus G125BE-34 oil boiler with logimatic control — and worked with the different vendors to get almost everything donated for the project. Bosch Industries donated the indirect water heater — a Buderus ST-200 indirect tank. Harriett’s Energy Solutions donated a Grandby oil tank.

“Scott is a member of our post and he told us about Oil Heat Cares,” says Post Commander Jim Szalma. “We are very grateful for the time and work everyone put into this project. They went above and beyond to make sure everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be and they have our upmost thanks.”

Helping those in need in local communities is what Oil Heat Cares is all about.

“There is nothing better than the feeling you get when helping others,” says Vadino, service manager for Harriett’s Energy Solutions, OESP national vice president and South Jersey OESP president. “Making this even more special is being able to give back to the great veterans of this country who have sacrificed so much for us.”

‘Better than a paycheck’

Patrick Boyle, president of Havertown, Pa.-based Boyle Energy and member of OESP’s Delaware Valley Chapter, agrees that helping people in need and giving back to the community is very rewarding work. “I find that feeling of accomplishment, compassion and pride inspire us to do many of the things we do without realizing it,” he says. “One of our main goals is to set aside time for service and giving back to the community that supports our business.”

When the Boyle Energy team found out that a customer, Nancy Kearney, had a leaking boiler that she could not afford to replace, the team, consisting of Boyle, Wayne Thomas and Dylan Glenn, partnered with OHC and installed a Utica boiler free of charge.

Kearney was so grateful she sent handwritten thank-you letters expressing her heartfelt thanks to both OHC and Boyle.

“It is through the kindness of complete strangers and people like Judy Garberand Patrick Boyle that I can breathe a lot easier,” she wrote. “I consider myself and my son blessed by the generosity of all involved.”

For Boyle and the Boyle Energy team, the experience made the Christmas season more joyous.

“Although December is one of our busiest sales months, I can say without a doubt the day we installed this was our best day,” Boyle notes. “The feeling we get when we look at the picture of the family with the new heater is better than any paycheck. I am so proud of the work the Boyle Energy team does each day — both for our clients and our community, and we appreciate having that great opportunity.”

This article was originally titled “Through the kindess of others” in the May 2015 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.