The Boston Globe
Kennedy’s Fuel Delivery Highlights Cold Truth: Not everyone basking in the economic glow
by John Ellement
Having delivered fuel oil for 10 years, Harry Boyden should have known that yesterday was going to be special when he saw that the sand, salt, and grime that usually coats his oil truck had been washed off. The black and white Alliance Energy Corp. vehicle was as shiny as a new day.
Something indeed was up. Shortly after 11 a.m., Boyden picked u a passenger on South Street in Jamaica Plain -- the former US representative Joseph P. Kennedy II. The two then drove to Verona Street, where they dropped off a load of home heating oil at the home of Carol Carreer.
“It’s a godsend, believe me,” Carreer said yesterday.
Carreer, who has lived in a third-floor unit for the past 20 years, is a retired nurse’s aide who relies on about $500 a month from Social Security to pay all her bills. She lives with her niece, Jean Hamilton, who works at a nearby fast-food restaurant. Together, they exceed federal income eligibility rules for fuel assistance by $65 -- the result of Hamilton picking up a stray overtime shift at Boston Chicken last month.
Carreer said she and her niece have eaten a lot of spaghetti lately because money once budgeted for food has been redirected to oil bills. She said they had scraped together $100 for heating oil, but that money and oil has since been used up.
With Boyden’s guidance and while television cameras recorded the event, Kennedy pumped 250 gallons of heating oil into Carol Carreer’s nearly empty oil tank to dramatize the beginning of a new fuel-assistance program from Kennedy’s Citizens Energy Corporation.
Under the plan, 2 million gallons of heating oil will be sold to lower-income people at 40 cents a gallon - -well below the 89.9 cents a gallon Alliance was charging yesterday. Participants receive a maximum of 150 gallons for the one-time fuel-assistant plan.
Without the help of Kennedy’s Citizens Energy, Carreer said she had only coldness to look forward to during the remaining weeks of this winter. Disregarding the danger, Carreer said she often turns on her gas stove and then uses a fan to push the warm air through their two-bedroom apartment.
Kennedy told reporters that the problems Carreer faces are not unusual or rare despite a booming national and state economy, a high-flying stock market, and a low unemployment rate. More homeless people than ever are dying on Boston’s streets and the number of people slipping into poverty is increasing, he said.
“People get the feeling that here are any poor left,” Kennedy said. “For people who are very poor, the need is never greater.”
Working with Citizens Energy is the United Way of Massachusetts, which ahs created a fund to accept donations to buy more oil. The address is United Way Oil Heat Fund, PO Box 138A, Boston, MA 02205. Households interested in purchasing the discounted oil can call 1-877-JOE-4-Oil (1-877-563-4645) for more information.