THAW The Heat and Warmth FUndWith its headquarters located in Michigan, Park West Gallery understands the need for heating during freezing winters, and stepped up to provide assistance to Michigan families.

The Heat and Warmth (THAW) Fund visited Park West on Feb. 17, 2015 to accept a donation of $2,000 to from the Park West Foundation, helping ensure that Michigan families will have ample heating and lighting resources for the winter.

THAW is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization established in 1985 that provides utility assistance to vulnerable Michigan residents through partnerships and a series of annual mobile processing events.

“The contributions are helpful for a number of reasons,” said Saunteel Jenkins, THAW CEO. “They help us keep families warm, but because they don’t come with as many restrictions…these kinds of contributions enable us to help families that have really unusual, difficult circumstances, so that is why it’s so important.”

Valentine’s Day weekend in Michigan was a chilly reminder of the importance of having heat, with temperatures dropping to single digits and wind chills at 20 below zero. Michigan’s frigid winters often mean that heating for homes is not merely a luxury, but a necessity for staying safe and healthy.

“If you have to go to sleep in a home that is 38 degrees and you have no heat and no hot water, it’s cold,” says Jenkins.

Unfortunately, many Michigan families living in the margin of poverty endure these freezing temperatures without heat, often forced to choose between heating or eating. Even worse, most people who face these decisions are children, seniors and individuals with serious medical conditions.

“More than 70 percent of our homes we service have a child or senior citizen in them,” Jenkins said. “About 50 percent of the people we serve are working, they just don’t make enough to make ends meet.”

According to THAW, a $40 donation helps a family maintain heating and lighting for two weeks, while a $100 contribution keeps a the heat on for  more than a month. A $240 donation keeps a family safe and warm for three months.

For the past 30 years, THAW has teamed up with WWJ Newsradio 950 to hold the Winter Survival Radiothon. The effort has raised funds to assist Michigan residents experiencing emergency energy crises through pledges and an auction. This year’s radiothon garnered over $1.4 million for the cause thanks to generous donors and sponsors, and with the proceeds from the auction, is expected to be at $1.5 million.

Formed in 2006, the Park West Foundation provides guidance and support for youth aging out of foster youth as well as supporting programs that bolster the well-being of these young adults.

Click here to donate to THAW.