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A father who recently lost his job … a single mother who is having trouble juggling work and affordable care for her children … a household dealing with an unexpected long-term medical expense. For many Rhode Island families in financial difficulty, possibly in your own community, the cold temperatures have them facing another cold reality … not being able to pay the monthly heating bill.

The Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund, sponsored by the energy service providers in the state and administered by United Way Rhode Island, is often the last resort for families who are in need of a helping hand. Last winter, more than 600 Rhode Island households in need of warmth received energy assistance thanks to those who generously gave to the Good Neighbor Energy Fund.

Unfortunately, due the falling temperatures, the Fund is once again seeing a rise in the number of requests for energy assistance. In fact, we expect the urgency of need to continue to escalate throughout the rest of the winter and into the spring. With this in mind, those in need of energy assistance should visit the nearest Community Action Program (CAP) agency or call the United Way 2-1-1 information line.

To help us satisfy the more than 750 requests for aid anticipated this winter alone, I appeal to everyone in Westerly and the surrounding area to join their fellow Rhode Islanders and the sponsoring energy companies to “Warm Thy Neighbor.”  Energy customers can donate by using the yellow Good Neighbor Energy Fund donation envelopes found as an insert in their monthly utility bills, via a credit card at or by making a check payable to “Good Neighbor Energy Fund” sent c/o United Way Rhode Island, 50 Valley Street, Providence, RI 02909-2459.

On behalf of all those families in need, thank you.

Suzanne Mello


The writer is the chairperson of the 2019 Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund and the vice president of operations for New England of Petro Home Services.

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