Saving Little Maria

The Gift of Warmth

After getting married, John went to work for a family-owned machine shop in Pawtucket, Jolene became a paralegal in Providence, and the young couple bought a small house on the East Side. It wasn’t long before they were expecting their first child, a baby girl — and a year later, her little brother. Other than adjusting to the new additions, life continued as normal.

Then, shortly after starting kindergarten, their daughter Maria was diagnosed with Leukemia. Although the medical bills piled up, the couple’s only concern was the health of their child.

Winter quickly approached as Maria finished treatment and, without money for heat, her recuperation was sure to be difficult. A few weeks later, Jolene noticed a yellow envelope tucked inside the gas bill and remembered the donation they’d made to the Good Neighbor Energy Fund years earlier.

She called her local Community Action Program agency and scheduled an appointment. Following a short interview, they were approved for heating assistance.

Every Rhode Islander who donated to the Good Neighbor Energy Fund gave this family the gift of warmth during a difficult time. Thankfully, Maria went on to make a full recovery.

A Lasting Impact

As the holidays approach, take a moment to remember that you can have a lasting impact on the lives of others. Whether it’s shoveling a driveway for an elderly neighbor, volunteering at a food pantry, or giving to the Good Neighbor Energy Fund, it’s important to help those who are struggling.

*Names, locations, and story details have been changed for privacy.


Since its founding in 1986, the Good Neighbor Energy Fund has helped more than 45,500 Rhode Islanders during times of financial hardships. For more information, please contact GNEF, or call United Way’s 2-1-1.

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By Jason Boulay, Project Manager of Digital Media, UWRI