NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Oct. 21, 2021 – The Salvation Army and Nicor Gas are partnering to provide emergency assistance and homelessness prevention through Shield of Caring, a new program that will help individuals and families to pay their natural gas utility bills and meet other basic needs now and well into the future.
Nicor Gas has contributed $5 million to The Salvation Army to serve those hardest hit by the pandemic. The Salvation Army will distribute the financial assistance through its corps community centers and service extension units in 37 counties in Nicor Gas’ Illinois service territory. The funding will assist residential customers who are past due on their natural gas utility bill and report a financial hardship, such as a job loss, illness, military deployment or disability.
“Shield of Caring is an expansion of our longstanding partnership with The Salvation Army and another way we can support our customers in their time of need,” said John O. Hudson III, president and CEO of Nicor Gas. “No one should have to make the tough choices about which bills to pay. As we head into cooler weather and thermostats are going up, Nicor Gas will be there to safely and reliably warm homes and hopefully warm some hearts too.”
The multiyear partnership is estimated to help more than 25,000 families. Nicor Gas residential customers with a household gross income in the last 30 days below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level may be eligible to receive a grant of up to $250 once every two years to apply to their past due account balances. Customers who are eligible to receive assistance grants from other programs, such as LIHEAP or Sharing, should apply for a grant from these programs. Customers who still have a past-due account balance after receiving assistance from those programs may be eligible to receive a grant under the Shield of Caring Program. A portion of the funds will also support The Salvation Army’s basic needs programs, such as emergency housing and rental assistance, food assistance and case management to help families identify barriers to self-sufficiency.
“Many continue to experience a heightened risk of falling below the poverty line due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division. “We believe the most important action we can take to assist vulnerable individuals is to help keep them in their homes, especially as one in three households in Illinois is at risk of eviction. That’s why we are grateful to partner with Nicor Gas to provide much-needed emergency assistance for help paying utilities and other basic needs.”
Nicor Gas residential customers can apply online for a Shield of Caring grant at shieldofcaring.com or by calling their local Salvation Army corps community center. Since the start of the pandemic, The Salvation Army has distributed nearly $1.6 million in emergency financial grants for rent, mortgage and utilities assistance in greater Chicagoland.
The Shield of Caring Program builds onto Nicor Gas’ existing Sharing Program, which is funded by Nicor Gas and donations from its customers to offer bill payment assistance to eligible residential customers in need. The Sharing Program will continue to operate as it has since 1983, with one-time annual grants up to $400 for income eligible residential customers.
To learn more about the Shield of Caring Program and other energy assistance options available, visit nicorgas.com/energyassistance.
Updated on 10/28/2021. For the latest updates, visit shieldofcaring.com
Nicor Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.2 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit nicorgas.com.
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas and related home services. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit Southern Company Gas at southerncompanygas.com.
The Salvation Army
Katie Heinz Pfingsten
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