Edward White, National Grid Foundation executive director, presents a $120,000 grant to Rev. Father Lefort, left, vicar general of the Diocese of Albany and a member of the Catholic Charities board, and Vincent Colonno, right, Catholic Charities CEO on Monday. The money will go toward the Catholic Charities’ Emergency Energy Fund. Photo by Elsworth Pascoe
Edward White, National Grid Foundation executive director, presents a $120,000 grant to Rev. Father Lefort, left, vicar general of the Diocese of Albany and a member of the Catholic Charities board, and Vincent Colonno, right, Catholic Charities CEO on Monday. The money will go toward the Catholic Charities’ Emergency Energy Fund. Photo by Elsworth Pascoe

The National Grid Foundation announced a grant of $120,000 for Catholic Charities’ Emergency Energy Assistance Fund (EEAF) on Monday, Feb. 4. The fund will go toward helping residents seeking emergency heating and energy assistance during the winter months.


This is the 11th year that the National Grid Foundation has provided a grant to Catholic Charities, which will assist approximately 550 households and 1,400 people across the 14 counties of the Albany Diocese.


Catholic Charities CEO Vincent Colonno thanked National Grid at a press conference for the energy assistance grant at the diocesan Pastoral Center in Albany.


“There’s always a need for emergency energy assistance in the winter months,” he said. “Individuals and families who really need help, come to Catholic Charities for that help. It’s through our community partners that, once again, we are going to help those in need.”


With the recent extremely, cold weather, heating bills can cause financial strain for residents already struggling to make ends meet. The EEFA fund helps pay energy bills - regardless of the heating fuel type - so nobody will have to worry about getting through the next cold snap.


“Many people making such decisions about where they can afford food or heat or any medication, those decisions are unjust,” said Rev. Father Lefort, vicar general of the Diocese of Albany and a member of Catholic Charities’ board of trustees.


Jacqueline Graves, recipient of the EEAF fund, said that she never would have been able to pay for her heat last winter had it not been for National Grid and Catholic Charities.


“I had no money to turn the electric on,” she said. “I wouldn’t have my place that I'm successfully [living in] on my own, without National Grid helping me that first month. I haven’t come this far without programs like this one.”


Greg Whitney received funding from EEAF in 2017, after suffering a stroke and waking up the day after Christmas paralyzed on his left side. His wife took off time from work to help with her husband’s recovery, and with help from EEAF, their family was able to stay afloat financially.


“This takes a village to help people who have come into times they’re not expecting,” he said. Catholic Charities “did not judge us on where we are or how we got there, just had open arms to help us.”


Edward White, executive director of the National Grid Foundation, said he was “humbled” to represent National Grid and see “the awesome work” being done by Catholic Charities.


As part of this effort, Catholic Charities and the National Grid Foundation are challenging the greater community to donate to the EEAF and help further assist those in need. Contributions can be made on the Catholic Charities website at http://www.ccrcda.org/.