The Springfield Union News
No Ordinary Joe Delivers Fuel Oil
SPRINGFIELD -- As politicians and members of the media watched, Joseph P. Kennedy II sprang out of an Auth oil truck yesterday morning and started pumping fuel into the tank at Leonard Gobeille’s home.
“My neighbors must really wonder what’s happening,” said Gobeille, 85, at his home on Grandview Street.
Gobeille was chosen as the first recipient in the state under the oil heat program sponsored by Kennedy’s Citizens Energy Corp. in Boston. Kennedy is chairman and president.
Gobeille, like other recipients, will pay 40 cents per gallon for a one-time 175-gallon delivery and the non-profit corporation will pay the rest. The average cost for fuel oil is 96 cents per gallon.
The program is different from many assistance programs in that there are no income limits.
“We work on trust,” Kennedy said.
Those wishing to apply for help should call 1-877-563-4645 for referral to their local fuel assistance agency.
Patricia Nelligan, who heads the New England Farm Workers Council fuel program here, said that anyone who is ineligible for other federal and state fuel assistance may ask for help trough this program. The direct number for city residents is 272-2209.
Help is given to those who say they have a financial hardship. Gobeille, sitting in the house among oil paintings done by his late wife, said he has lived there for 52 years. He retired at 65 as maintenance painter and carpenter for the city library system.
“With a fixed income it was important to get fuel assistance,” he said.
The oil heat initiative distributed more than 1.2 million gallons of oil last winter and may deliver more than 2 million this year.
Kennedy said that people should not be force to live and sleep in the cold, choose between heat and prescription drugs, or end up doing dangerous things like trying to heat with a stove.