|NJ SHARES awards 100,000th Energy Assistance Grant
Statewide energy fund has given more than $27 million to households in need
Newark, NJ — July 21, 2005 — A family from Hillside has become the 100,000th recipient of an energy assistance grant from NJ SHARES (New Jersey Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral for Energy Services), the statewide energy fund that has provided more than $27 million in aid to needy families and individuals since its creation in 1997.
NJ SHARES is a non-profit organization that helps pay the gas and electric bills of households that are experiencing a temporary financial crisis. One-time grants of up to $500 are available to eligible households on the basis of need, not income.
Officials from NJ SHARES, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), the Office of the Ratepayer Advocate, PSE&G and Elizabethtown Gas celebrated the milestone with the grant recipients – Robert Hicks and his wife, Alnisa Lindsay – at a ceremony today in the BPU's Newark office. The Hicks' have five children, and were having difficulty making ends meet despite the fact that Robert works full time and earns a second income as a sergeant in the New Jersey National Guard. After falling behind on their utility bills last winter, the Hicks' applied for an NJ SHARES grant through Catholic Charities of the Archdioceses of Newark.
"It's noteworthy that the Hicks family turned out to be our 100,000th grant recipient, since they truly exemplify the type of household that NJ SHARES was created to help," said NJ SHARES President Ronald H. Reisman. "Our clients are good, hardworking people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a tough financial situation – but not eligible for age- or income-based energy assistance programs. NJ SHARES is the safety net that keeps the heat on and the lights burning while the family gets back on its feet."
Reisman pointed out that NJ SHARES raises its funds through voluntary contributions by utility customers through bill insert solicitations; matching contributions from those customers’ utilities; donations from individuals and businesses; foundation grants; state appropriations from the Unclaimed Utility Deposits Trust Fund; and special fundraising events. Customers in need may apply for NJ SHARES grants through a network of 70 social service agencies, with more than 110 locations, throughout the state.
BPU President Jeanne M. Fox said, "NJ SHARES enables hardworking families across New Jersey to pay their utility bills without having to make tough choices between vital necessities. This program is an excellent example of neighbors helping neighbors."
Speaking on behalf of New Jersey’s utility customers, Ratepayer Advocate Seema M. Singh noted that adequate funding for energy assistance programs is essential in a time of rapidly rising energy costs. "I congratulate NJ S HARES for reaching a milestone in bestowing the 100,000th grant that provides such critical support in helping New Jersey’s residents deal with rising energy costs," said Singh. "As wonderful as this achievement is, it underscores the continuing need in our state for financial assistance to people who are having difficulties in paying their utility bills."
New Jersey’s seven gas and electric utilities have all actively supported NJ SHARES since its creation, and are represented on the organization’s Board of Directors. "Elizabethtown Gas recognizes the importance of helping others," said Don Carter, region manager of Elizabethtown Gas' Northwest New Jersey service area. "We're pleased to give matching funds to NJ SHARES and to know our contributions help hardworking people in need like the Hicks family."
PSE&G's Vice President of Customer Operations, Cecil House added, "I believe in this program and its mission to help people facing a financial crisis. An NJ SHARES grant not only helps to keep the lights on and the house safe and comfortable, it provides peace of mind for our customers at a difficult time."
Anyone who needs to apply for an NJ SHARES grant may visit the organization’s website at www.njshares.org or call toll-free 1-866- NJSHARES (1-866-657- 4273). Both the website and phone number offer a complete list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of the social service agencies which process NJ SHARES grants. The website and phone number may also be used to make tax-deductible donations to NJ SHARES.