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National Grid Foundation Meets United Way’s Basic Needs Challenge with Funding for Heating Assistance

Energy provider’s Foundation makes largest contribution to date to address growing need; urges community to support United Way’s unified effort
National Grid Foundation board member Carmen Fields presents a United Way Family Financial Stability Fund check to Gerry Fine, Cambridge Family & Children's Service board of directors vice president PHOTO Howard Kang/UWMBMV

In direct response to United Way's $250,000 community challenge issued last month, the National Grid Foundation has designated $75,000 to be distributed among seven regional nonprofits providing heating assistance to families in need. National Grid Foundation's annual support of United Way's funding of a collective of basic needs services grew by 25 percent this year due to the increasing need of the region's residents. Following their contribution, the National Grid Foundation is asking residents to also come forward and assist those struggling to provide basic needs for their families. United Way requests that matching donations be made at www.chooseyourimpact.org/FFSF

"There exist basic needs that unite us all. Sadly, these fundamental requirements go unmet for too many residents of Massachusetts," said Carmen Fields, Board Member National Grid Foundation. "We have answered United Way's community challenge and we urge the members of our community to join us. Together we can support our friends and neighbors in this shared time of crisis and ensure that no one feels cold this winter as they struggle to provide for their families basic needs."

Last winter, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley helped 604 households meet their emergency fuel needs. This season, with high unemployment, the elimination of a key rental assistance benefit and federal funding reductions, the projected need is greater than ever. Currently nearly 100,000 Massachusetts children live in extreme poverty, 14 percent of Massachusetts children are at the poverty level and nearly 30 percent of Massachusetts children live in families on the brink of poverty.

The level of need is rising throughout the region served by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley as well as the Commonwealth. United Way's 2-1-1 service has received a significant increase from callers seeking help with housing, utility payments, procuring food, becoming financially stable, veterans services, emergency relief and childcare help. In 2006 United Way's 2-1-1 service received 30,000 calls for assistance, growing to 90,000 calls in 2011.

"The immediacy with which the National Grid Foundation answered our community challenge exemplifies how United Way can directly turn a supporter's commitment into focused, positive action," said United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley president and CEO, Michael K. Durkin. "Their steadfast support will help us begin to lift up the members of our community as one however our neighbors need collective action to keep their children warm this winter. I urge those who are capable of support this effort, to join the National Grid Foundation and help your fellow residents."

United Way and National Grid Foundation members will distribute funding tomorrow as follows:

  • Ecumenical Social Action Committee, Inc. (ESAC): $12,500
  • Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence: $12,500
  • Cambridge Family & Children's Service: $10,000
  • Newton Community Service Center: $10,000
  • Community Teamwork: $10,000
  • City Mission Society: $10,000
  • Quincy Community Action Program, Inc. (QCAP): $10,000

In addition to helping people on the brink of crisis, United Way's Family Financial Stability Fund serves as an opportunity to connect families with services to help them regain their long-term financial stability. Research shows that it takes families an average of 21 months to regain their stability after a financial crisis. Through the fund, United Way annually helps thousands of residents gain employment and attain financial skills.