With the frigid temperatures, even just a little assistance to help defray the cost of heating your home can make a big difference during these financially challenging times. It's exactly what National Grid and Catholic Charities are doing for hundreds of families in the area. Our Steve Ference reports.
RENSSELAER, N.Y. -- "I'm on a fixed income right," said Richard St. John of Cohoes.
Five months ago, he couldn't pay his utility bills.
"They would have probably turned my lights off - no heat, no hot water, no nothing," he said.
But with the help of Catholic Charities and the National Grid Foundation, St. John was one of the many to receive help, allowing him to keep the power on. Financial aid that Bishop Howard Hubbard said more and more people are having to rely on in this economic climate.
"This past year, Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Albany responded to requests of 16,000 people for emergency assistance," said Bishop Hubbard.
"I started my day in Saratoga this morning and by 20 minutes to 10, we had had four requests for assistance with home energy," said Sister Carla Commins, Catholic Charities Interim CEO. "People who ran out of fuel over the weekend, people who needed a delivery but didn't have a down payment, people who are past due with their National Grid bills."
It's why the National Grid Foundation - which has donated $25,000 and $30,000 in the past two years - donated $50,000 to help thousands of families get by this winter.
"We all know needs are more than ever, today especially as it's so cold it brings home the point," said National Grid board member, Susan Crossett.
Maybe you don't need assistance per se, so we spoke with Patrick Stella, spokesperson with National Grid, who told us what you can do to keep your bills down when the mercury drops.
"If you're going to be gone two, three hours, it's good to go ahead and lower your thermostat as much as you feel comfortable with," said Stella. "Obviously if you have other things in your home you don't want it to get too cold."
Because every little bit helps. And for many, a little help can mean the difference between a warm home and a painful winter.
"They helped me out," said St. John. "Right now I'm alright. Now I'm alright. And I thank them very much for the help."
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