By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – This year's Spirit of Shrewsbury Fall Festival will begin earlier than usual with a first-time fundraiser Thursday, Sept. 25, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Ski Ward to benefit Shrewsbury Oil Assistance Relief (SOAR). “Let Your Spirit SOAR” will raise funds to help residents in need of an emergency oil delivery this winter.
John Masiello, SOAR founder, is excited that the event's connection with the festival will raise awareness and funds for the cause.
“I think it's a good mix,” he said. “It will give us some good exposure and people will remember to give.”
Masiello founded SOAR six years ago after a casual conversation while fishing with his friend Selectman Moe DePalo.
“Moe told me that the police and fire departments get calls from people who are out of oil, and they can's get it delivered because they'se in arrears on their bill,” he relayed. “A lot of these people would be eligible for aid. I figured that if we could get them 75 or 100 gallons, then it would buy them enough time to get their finances in order or be able to get on permanent aid for fuel assistance.”
Unlike gas or electric heat, oil deliveries stop if a customer is in arrears with their payment. SOAR is administered by Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services of which Terry Cassidy is executive director.
“Usually these people are hardworking and have had a life-changing event – an illness, disability or loss of work that suddenly warrants them to not have money to pay for oil,” she explained. “Some referrals come from St. Anne's Human Services and the Senior Center. First responders go to the homes and verify that they are out of oil.”
Cassidy feels that the attention of this fundraiser will also help residents in need become aware of the SOAR program.
“Last year it took a while for a family to realize that SOAR is available to assist them,” she said. “The mom was working part time, the dad suddenly became ill and was out of work, and they were waiting for his disability. They had four young children who couldn's do their schoolwork or homework. They were staying under covers to stay warm. The children thought that they and their animals were going to freeze to death. It was fortunate that they were able to survive.”
In addition to Masiello, the hosts for the evening are Beth Casavant, Hannah Kane and state Rep. Matt Beaton, R-Shrewsbury. Struck Catering will serve refreshments with a cash bar available. Entertainment will be provided by Mr. Big’z Music Machine, aka Fire Chief Jim Vuona.
The fundraiser's presenting sponsor is Hairlines. Spirit sponsors are Beaton Charity Classic; Central One Federal Credit Union; Law Office of Joseph J. Cariglia, PC; Schwartz Family Charitable Foundation; and Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc. Community sponsors are Beaton Kane Construction and Lamoureux Pagano. SOAR sponsors are Gene and Julianne DeFeudis, Mirick O”Connell, Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen, Shrewsbury Social Club and Smook Architecture & Urban Design.
Admission is $50 per person; $75 per couple. Reservations must be made in advance. Names will be added to the guest list; no paper tickets will be mailed. Make check payable to Shrewsbury Oil Assistance Relief and mail to: SOAR, PO Box 595, Shrewsbury, MA 01545.
Attending “Let Your Spirit SOAR” will be a good investment, Cassidy noted.
“Any money donated to SOAR goes right to oil,” she said.
Masiello added, “Seventy-five dollars will send about 25 gallons of oil to somebody who will greatly appreciate it.”