| NJ SHARES Distributes One-Millionth Dollar
Hightstown, NJ — January 11, 2000 —
NJ SHARES (Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral for Energy Services)
recently distributed its one-millionth dollar to a recipient who applied
for the grant at the American Red Cross in Plainfield, N.J. Established
in 1998, NJ SHARES is a statewide energy fund that offers assistance to
working-class households that are experiencing a financial crisis but
are not receiving welfare. American Red Cross of Plainfield is one of
37 local intake agencies which distribute NJ SHARES relief funds.
According to Jake Kearney, Social Service Director at American Red Cross,
the recipient of the one-millionth dollar grant is a single father of
two teenage children who also supports a disabled family member. As with
many other NJ SHARES grant applicants, this recipient is currently working,
but was recently unemployed, causing him to fall behind on his heating
and electricity bills. After receiving the grant, the agency also assisted
the household in negotiating payment arrangements with their utility to
pay off the remaining balance.
"Qualifying applicants who are experiencing a financial crisis can
receive a NJ SHARES grant of up to $250 each for gas and electricity,"
said Larry Savitsky, NJ SHARES Executive Director. "The program intends
to provide one-time assistance to help households get back on their feet
with their utility bills."
To qualify for a NJ SHARES grant, applicants must have a history of good
faith payments and not be receiving welfare. According to Kearney, the
demographics of NJ SHARES applicants at American Red Cross of Plainfield
range greatly, including young, elderly, single parents, couples, working-class,
unemployed, and disabled. In 40% of the cases, the applicants have already
been shut off from their gas or electricity. Last year, American Red Cross
of Plainfield alone processed more than 100 NJ SHARES grants.
"The fact that NJ SHARES granted its millionth dollar is evidence
enough to show how valuable this program is to those who are often ineligible
for other types of assistance," said Kearney. "We are pleased
to help those who fall into trouble, often because of causes beyond their
NJ SHARES was formed by six of the state's leading non-profit organizations
and six New Jersey energy companies including: American Association of
Retired Persons (AARP), Community Health Law Project, NJ Low Income Energy
Network, Association for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), New Jersey Community
Action Association, Inc., The Salvation Army, Conectiv, Elizabethtown
Gas Co., GPU Energy, Public Service Electric and Gas Co., Rockland Electric
Co., and South Jersey Gas Co.