Keep the Heat On

“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  James 2:15-17

At the home of a North Providence family on October 31, 2005, The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, began the “Keep the Heat On” challenge as home heating costs reached record highs. In announcing this heating assistance campaign, The Bishop presented the family with a $2,700 check made payable to New England Gas to restore their utility service. The service was disconnected in May when the couple had fallen behind in their payments, both for the past heating season and in making payments for a prior balance.

Bishop Tobin’s challenge to both the diocesan family and others of good will came as a pledge to match dollar for dollar all donations to this fund up to $75,000 thanks to a grant from the Catholic Charity Fund Appeal. The Bishop notes that this challenge is not in competition with other energy assistance plans, such as the Good Neighbor Energy Fund but rather the final piece of an established network – a program of last resort for those with no place left to turn for heating assistance. Keep the Heat On, is a strong example of how the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence is making a difference in the lives of Rhode Island individuals and families.

It is heartening that so many Rhode Islanders have answered this challenge to assist those families in need.  Rising energy costs have forced many families to turn to the diocese for help and we were able to answer their call. On behalf of the Diocese and the families who have been and will be served by the ‘Keep the Heat On’ program, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for their generous support.”  Bishop Tobin.

In its first year, ‘Keep the Heat On’ raised $110,736.38 thanks to the generosity of over 520 donors. Combined matching grants form the Catholic Charity Fund, more than $185,000 was made available to assist over 380 Rhode Island households with no place left to turn with their oil and gas heating needs during that first year.

Since it was established in 2005, “Keep the Heat On” has provided more than $2 million in heating assistance to more than 9,300 Rhode Island households through grants from the Catholic diocese and private contributions.  While energy prices have subsided since those 2005 highs, the economic downturn has created new challenges for struggling families in Rhode Island.  As long as there are Rhode Islanders in need of heating assistance, Keep the Heat On will continue to provide for their needs.

Donations are made through the Interfaith Dire Emergency Fund, a program established in 1978 by the Interfaith Leadership to assist those who have exhausted all other means of public and private heating assistance. The Dire Emergency Fund, staffed by the Diocesan Office of Community Services and Advocacy assists those in need throughout the State of Rhode Island.

To apply for assistance or make a tax-deductible donation in support of Keep the Heat On, please visit the official webpage at

Contact Information
Jim Jahnz

Interfaith Dire Emergency Fund
One Cathedral Square
Providence, RI 02903
401.421.7833 x.207