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Tom Giroux portrait

Heartwarming deed helps couple avoid financial ruin

Added on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

For Tom and Shirley Giroux, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

In the span of just a few months, their van broke down, their washer and dryer died, and Shirley needed surgery on her gall bladder. Together, these unforeseen expenses wiped out their bank account.

The hits kept coming: Just when the residents of Monticello, Minn., thought their financial freefall was over, their furnace conked out.

Portrait of Tom Giroux“Every time it came on, it sounded like a jet airplane taking off,” said Tom, 59.

Tom (pictured), a former mechanic of 30 years, jury-rigged a temporary solution. But it was clear that the nearly 20-year-old furnace – which couldn’t be completely repaired due to its age – was on its last leg.

Tom and Shirley’s finances were on life support as well. Between Shirley’s part-time employment and Tom’s small pension and disability payments, they couldn’t afford the $3,000 worth of parts and labor needed for a new furnace.

“The money just wasn’t there,” said Tom, whose health problems forced him into early retirement in 2013. He walks with a cane and is not allowed to lift anything heavier than five pounds.

With no place left to turn, Tom contacted The Salvation Army’s field office in the nearby city of St. Michael and explained his predicament.

Thanks to your donations, The Salvation Army was able to help in a major way.

Igniting hope  

Recognizing Tom and Shirley’s unique situation, The Salvation Army teamed up with CenterPoint Energy to offer them a new furnace through HeatShare.

HeatShare is a Salvation Army program for people facing a utility shutoff or other energy-related emergency. Funds are typically used to pay for natural gas, electricity, or furnace repairs. Although it is rare for HeatShare to fund the cost of a new furnace, the program is able to offer the assistance on occasion – especially when our partners get involved.

Technician installs furnace“We were grateful for the opportunity to share our expertise and help a customer in need this heating season through the Salvation Army HeatShare program,” said Doug Peterson, director of Home Service Plus for CenterPoint Energy.

Earlier this month, two technicians showed up at Tom and Shirley’s house to deliver and install the new furnace (pictured). Tom and Shirley were so thankful.

“Thank God for this,” Tom said. “Without this assistance it would have been a big downward spiral. But things are looking up now. The math is going to work out.”

Protect your home, heat another’s

CenterPoint Energy’s support of HeatShare is on fire this month: For every new CenterPoint Energy maintenance plan customers sign up for between now and March 31, the company will donate $20 to HeatShare.

“This is an excellent opportunity to protect your own home while helping to heat your neighbor’s,” said Mike McGlone, HeatShare director.

HeatShare has been helping Minnesota families since 1982. Today the program provides $1.5 million worth of energy assistance to over 4,000 households in Minnesota, giving each recipient an average of $370 to keep their homes warm.

“But that is just a drop in the bucket – many more families need our help,” McGlone said. “About 40,000 people apply for HeatShare assistance every year, yet we can help only 10 percent of them.”

HeatShare is fueled by donations to The Salvation Army and by customers of local utilities, including CenterPoint Energy.


Watch Tom Giroux explain how HeatShare helped him out of dire financial circumstances: