Tribe to Receive $200,000 Grant For Fuel Assistance

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council is slated to receive more than $200,000 for fuel assistance from the Citizens Energy Corporation and Citgo Petroleum Corporation, according to a tribal council spokesman.

The grant, which has been certified but not yet received, should last through the winter and will be a major boost t othe tribal council’s otherwise limited fuel assistance program operated the federal Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program, spokesman Gayle Andrews said.

“It is just one of the best things to happen to us since we became a nation. It is the product of some very serious bulldogging by [Vice chairman] David Pocknett. He takes this very seriously because we do have so many people that do need fuel assistance. It is one of the biggest problems we have, maintaining a decent quality of life for our people,” Ms. Andrews said. “This is one of the benefits of sovereignty.”

Citizens Energy Corporation, founded by Joseph P. Kennedy II, distributes oil to needy households, charities, and Native American tribes. The nonprofit accepted a $25 million donation from the Venezuelan-owned Citgo petroleum company last month, according to various news reports.

Tribal council officials met with representatives from the Venezuelan government at the South American country’s embassy in Washington, DC, last fall, Ms. Andrews said. In addition to cementing the fuel assistance deal, the meeting also laid the groundwork for future cooperation between the tribal council and the Venezuelan government on economic development and business projects, she said.

“They want to help us get on our feet,” she said.

Mr. Pocknett and Chairman Shawn W. Hendricks Sr. were traveling and not available for comment.

Of the $217,259 grant, 90 percent is dedicated to households, and the other 10 percent is set aside for nonprofit and governmental facilities.

Coming in From the Cold

PAWTUCKET – In a goodwill tag team, Congressman Patrick Kennedy joined his cousin, Joe Kennedy, Tuesday morning to present the New Hope for Families Emergency Shelter with much-welcomed funds from the Citizens Energy Winter Assistance Program

At a press conference outside the shelter’s new home on Branch Street, a group of local dignitaries joined the Kennedy duo in handing over a $5,000 check to New Hope Director David McCreadie.

On hand for the Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau, Edward Tetzner of Mayor James Doyle’s office, representatives of Gateway Health Care, and an assortment of local and state officials and advocates for the poor. The $5,000 will be used to provide heating assistance to the residences of the new emergency shelter, which offers temporary apartment units for families for a two to three-month period.

In his remarks, Congressman Kennedy noted that the federal government has flat-funded aid for many social services programs, and that this, coupled with the spike in heating oil costs, effectively means a decrease in funding.
“I am proud of the work of myself and my colleagues in Congress, as well as the work of my cousin Joe, to make sure we do everything we can to support energy assistance for families in need,” Kennedy said. “We have a hard fight ahead of us, and we won’t give up until every house in the country has the heat it needs to survive the winter.”

Joe Kennedy, chairman and president of Citizens Energy Corporation, added that “Citizens Energy hopes the alleviate the strain that high winter heating bills place on the New Hope for Families shelter. This grant will allow the shelter to devote resources to other crucial services like education and health care and help families in the shelter rebuild their lives.”
The largesse was much appreciated, McCreadie said. “On behalf of the homeless families we serve, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Mr. Joseph Kennedy and the Citizens Energy Fund for all that they do for families in need.”

Citizens Energy’s Shelter Winter Assistance Program provides heating assistance to thousands of homeless men, women and children in more than 100 Massachusetts and Rhode Island homeless shelters every winter.

New Hope for Families was started in 1986 by a group of concerned citizens in Pawtucket and Central Falls to provide families with a safe place to go to rebuild their resources and their lives.

According to McCreadie, the shelter serves families throughout the state who come from a variety of circumstances. They are allowed to stay for two to three months, until they can find transitional housing and eventually, is hoped, permanent affordable housing. Each year, New Hope provides temporary lodging and assistance to nearly 50 families.

McCreadie said the new location, formerly on Barton Street, offers families the relative comforts of a space with multiple rooms. The Barton Street facility was a congregate shelter, so a parent with six children would have no choice but to keep the brood in a single room. “This way, they only have to deal with the issues of homelessness,” he said.

The New Hope for Families Emergency Shelter is funded through several state and federal grants and community development block grants, McCreadie said.