The President of CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Alejandro Granado, Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II and representatives of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States launched the 2009 CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program here today by making the inaugural delivery of free fuel to the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House.
“In light of the current global financial crisis, CITGO is making a huge effort to continue its social programs in alignment with the solidarity principles endorsed by the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez, and carried out by its national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PDVSA),” Granado said, adding that “this is the largest social initiative implemented by any energy company in this country.”
Carried out in partnership by CITGO and Citizens Programs Corporation, the program has provided heating oil to more than one million people in need throughout the United States.
“We know this is a big effort,” Granado said. “Due to the limited resources that are available at the present time, we at CITGO are extremely proud of being able to continue the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program to help the most vulnerable in this country,” he noted.
Last winter (2007-2008), the heating oil program provided more than 200,000 households in 23 states, 223 tribal communities and large low-income housing cooperatives in New York City with fuel. Also, the CITGO funds provided heating grants to over 210 homeless shelters in 14 states, including the District.
The commitment by Venezuela and CITGO was developed in the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, when the company stepped forward to help communities ravaged by the storms, and thus responded positively to a plea to oil companies made by a group of U.S. senators. At the same time, Citizens Programs began hearing from more families struggling to keep pace with rising energy costs, especially during the winter, when temperatures dropped and the need for heating fuels increased.
“We approach every major oil company and every OPEC nation each year to ask that a small slice of their profits go to help the poor,” said Citizens Energy Chairman, Joseph P. Kennedy II. “Only one oil company – CITGO – and only one nation – Venezuela – stepped up to the plate to offer a helping hand.”
“The continuation of the program in 2009 demonstrates the genuine commitment of President Hugo Chávez to the most vulnerable in the United States in spite of the ongoing global financial crisis,” Kennedy added.
The Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, named after the founder of the Catholic Workers Movement, provides transitional shelter for women and their children as they rebuild their lives. The center currently provides housing for five mothers with nine children. Five volunteers also live at the center and provide support to the families. "We try to follow the example of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, co-founders of the movement, who believed in hospitality for people in need," said volunteer resident Kathy Boylan. "This house has literally helped hundreds of people throughout the years. We are very grateful for the generosity of CITGO and the Venezuelan people."
"This house is so helpful for many people just like me who have trouble in this world," said Griselda, a mother who lives with her three children at the shelter. "I am so happy I found this place. I want to thank Joe Kennedy and CITGO for their help. They help so many people who need heat in the winter."
Citizens Energy, formed by Kennedy during the oil price shocks of the late 1970s, has provided discounted heating oil to the poor and the elderly for almost 30 years. The non-profit energy company has a relationship with Venezuela going back to its earliest years.
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office