DETROIT (WWJ) – DTE Energy and The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) have partnered to present the Week of Warmth celebration in an effort to provide more than $1 million in energy assistance to vulnerable Michigan families.
“We started with the ‘Weekend of Giving’ last year, where it was just several days where we were raising money for this event. And it was so successful that we decided to turn it into a 10 day event, which starts officially today, but the first event is Friday, November 11th and goes through November 21st. And last year we raised about a half million dollars,” said DTE Energy’s Gerry Norcia.
With tough economic conditions continuing and winter just around the corner, DTE Energy and THAW are working to highlight how cuts in government funding for home energy assistance programs could impact Michigan residents.
In 2010, 615,000 Michigan households relied on the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help pay their utility bills.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama’s administration proposed cuts of nearly $2.5 billion, equal to a 50 percent reduction of the authorized $5.1 billion in LIHEAP funding. While proposals in Congress are calling for a more modest 25 percent cut, funding for Michigan residents could be reduced to $120 million next year, compared to the $326 million this year.
Susan Sherer, CEO of THAW, said the group distributed assistance to 12,000 households in Michigan in 2010. Since 1985, THAW has distributed more than $102 million in assistance to over 150,000 Michigan households.
The Week of Warmth is a series of events designed to raise awareness of the issue of energy assistance, provide energy efficiency education and highlight the need for public/private sector collaboration to help struggling low-income families in need. It includes:
- THAW’s Night of Warm Hearts charity fundraiser at DTE Energy headquarters
- Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Day at New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit
- Warmth with Wings at the Joe Louis Arena
- Hallelujah for Heat gospel concert at Second Ebenezer Baptist Church in Detroit
- Customer Assistance Day at Cobo Hall in Detroit
Every dollar raised during the campaign will be distributed to customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills and maintain their service. Human services, wellness, and credit and housing agencies will join DTE Energy and THAW in providing much-needed assistance.