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Bell Atlantic Chimes In With Donation To NJ SHARES For Needy

Saddle River, NJ — June 24, 1999 — Bell Atlantic has made the first corporate contribution by a company outside the state's energy industry to New Jersey SHARES, the new statewide energy assistance fund which aids New Jersey residents who need temporary help in paying their energy bills due to short-term financial problems.

New Jersey SHARES (Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral for Energy Services) is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation created in 1998 by a coalition of New Jersey's top energy companies and non-profit agencies.

New Jersey SHARES has given more than 2700 grants since it started operating in November, 1998 to non-welfare residential energy customers who have short-term financial difficulties, and who are either ineligible for, or have exhausted all, governmental resources available to them. There is no requirement to repay the grant.

Thirty-nine community-based organizations in 59 geographic locations serve as volunteer intake centers for potentially eligible residents. Four such sites operate in Bergen County: The Center for Food Action in Mahwah and Englewood; the Bergen County Community Action Program in Hackensack; and the Social Services Association of Ridgewood and Vicinity.

One unique feature of this statewide energy assistance program is its software application procedure, which not only certifies eligibility for a New Jersey SHARES grant, but provides an applicant with information regarding all special assistance programs for which they are eligible.

"It is this holistic approach to providing temporary help that distinguishes New Jersey SHARES from most other governmental or community programs," says Judy Lankau, President of the Board of Directors. "We don't want to apply a Band-Aid to the problem; we want to give people the chance to regain their independence and get back on their feet as quickly as possible."

The seed money to launch New Jersey SHARES came from the energy provider members' contributions. Additional funding has been received from the general public as a result of information shared with them through their energy bills. Donations are matched by the energy companies. No public donation dollars are used to pay administrative costs.

The coalition which formed New Jersey SHARES includes energy companies and non-profit organizations. Founding members were Connectiv, Elizabethtown Gas Company, GPU Energy, PSE&G, Rockland Electric Company, South Jersey Gas Company, 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, and The Salvation Army.

Executive Director of New Jersey SHARES, Lawrence Savitsky, said, "The needy are always among us, but those who, through no fault of their own, become temporarily in need present us with a particularly difficult set of problems. New Jersey SHARES serves the public interest in the purest possible way."

If you wish to make a contribution to New Jersey SHARES, please send your check to New Jersey SHARES, 299 Ward Street, Suite B, PO Box 1415, Hightstown, NJ 08520. You can also add an extra $1 to your Rockland Electric bill; they will know what's it for and forward it on to New Jersey SHARES.

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