Before the winter chill, Bicentennial Ball raises over $15,000 for Project Warmth

Eddie Jensen, left, owner of Jensen Tire and Auto, attends the Bicentennial Ball with his wife, Veronica. Jensen was recognized for donating $5,000 to Project Warmth, the beneficiary of the fundraiser.

MONROE, CT — A Bicentennial Ball at the Stone Barn at Whitney Farms Friday evening attracted 75 guests for a night of dinner, dancing and other entertainment. Aside from bringing members of the community together, the event raised over $15,000 for Project Warmth, a town fund that assists families struggling with the cost of heating their homes.

Ray Giovanni, president of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, said the replenishing of the town’s fund comes at a time when the state of Connecticut announced a 78 percent federal cut to its Project Fuel program.

Many Monroe families benefited from Project Fuel, which offered about $450 in assistance per year for those who qualified, according to Giovanni. Once that assistance was exhausted, town residents could apply for Project Warmth funds.

“The state admitted those funds for Project Fuel have already been completely used up and no further applications are being accepted,” Giovanni said Tuesday.

Project Warmth assisted 40 families with heating or utility needs in 2022 with over $12,213 in aid and, since January 2023, the town program has already assisted 42 families with over $14,506 worth of assistance, according to Kimberly A. Cassia, the town’s director of Community & Social Services.

Prior to the Bicentennial Ball the fund was low, with winter right around the corner.

“Because of this event, many families will be aided in the opportunity to stay warm this winter,” Giovanni said. “Monroe is fortunate to have compassionate residents and committed businesses in town that still believe in giving back to others to help those in need. Our timing for this event was impeccable, but only the beginning for what is needed.”

“Even with the funds raised and over 100 families seeking assistance, these dollars will not go far,” he added. “I implore those who have the ability to please support this cause and donate to Project Warmth and drop donations at the Senior Center.”

Cassia said those who missed the fundraising event, can make donations online via the Town of Monroe website or by mailing checks payable to Project Warmth to the Department of Community & Social Services, 235 Cutlers Farm Road, Monroe CT 06468.

For information, call Cassia at 203-452-2815 x4 or email her at [email protected].

Focusing on a need

While talking with fellow Chamber members earlier in the year, Giovanni suggested a focus on helping Monroe families who will need assistance heating their homes this season — at a time when oil prices stood around five-dollars-per-gallon.

“With the Israeli crisis this could easily go to six dollars by December,” he said.

Giovanni said a few Chamber Board members quickly responded to assist with the task and he contacted Cassia, who runs the Project Warmth program, about the Chamber’s intentions.

“Kim was quick to sign on and join the campaign,” Giovanni said. “We then sought out some of the previous volunteers who had led the charge in years past to join our efforts. This group organized the event and brought in the idea to acknowledge yet another bicentennial event that could be recognized, while supporting Project Warmth as the wonderful recipient of the proceeds generated by these efforts.”

During the ball, Eddie Jensen, of Jensen Tire and Auto, was recognized for donating $5,000 over the past year and First Selectman Ken Kellogg donated $5,000 with proceeds from his Monroe First Foundation’s annual golf tournament, according to Giovanni.

“Our Project Warmth Bicentennial Ball was a huge success,” Cassia exclaimed. “It was a great evening with friends, old and new, raising awareness and funds to help our residents with their energy needs! Thank you to all who made this event a memorable evening!”

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Shared photos from the Ball

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