Gas companies’ community partnerships help warm homes, hearts in winter

Adam Pope

When winter comes, many of us don’t give a second thought to the comfort of having a warm home. For others, home heating can be a struggle. Just one hardship — a job loss, car repair or illness — can lead to a “heat or eat” crisis. Susquehanna County Interfaith executive director Cindy Beeman has heard these kinds of stories from many residents in her community facing the dilemma of being without heat.

Thousands of county residents turn to Interfaith for a variety of services and programs. For example, the program distributed more than $23,420 last year, according to the organization’s 2016-17 annual report, to help more than 93 households pay for emergency home heating assistance when government-funded assistance wasn’t enough.

Interfaith fills a critical role in this small community, and it’s not an easy job. Its small thrift store is the only place where many Susquehanna County residents purchase clothes, home goods and other items. Funds generated by the thrift store help to cover overhead costs for the nonprofit organization, while most of the programs and services are supported thanks to generous community and corporate partners, including several energy companies in northeast PA.

In this rural, idyllic corner of Pennsylvania, the programs and services offered by Interfaith are essential. The average median income for Susquehanna County is $26,551, according to the most recent census statistics. The county has a near 13-percent poverty rate. Interfaith is often a last resort for those who may not qualify or be fully served by government programs such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Energy companies have supported Interfaith with more than just its fuel service program. DTE Energy and XNG have  provided donations and filled backpacks for the organization’s Back-to-School Shoe program. It provides in-need students with a new pair of shoes and a backpack filled with school supplies.

Williams donates to the back-to-school program, and has supported the organization through its annual employee day of caring. Southwestern Energy has given donations and support, including helping the organization deliver Christmas presents to Susquehanna County seniors. Bags of Christmas gifts donated by Cabot Oil & Gas employees fill a storeroom, waiting to be delivered to families this holiday season.

Providing access to affordable natural gas is important. But being a good community partner is an even greater responsibility for the energy industry. It might be difficult during a busy time of year to slow down and see how the natural gas industry impacts our lives, but we can be thankful for all that we have, and grateful to the community leaders, who find ways to help those in need.

Cindy Beeman discusses how Susquehanna County Interfaith helps families with home heating

Adam Pope

Adam Pope is Senior Director of Bravo Group's Pittsburgh office. With extensive background in energy and experience in the public and private sector, Adam provides a comprehensive perspective on the industry landscape.

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