Reading woman given heating unit by Maidencreek Township business
Finally, it’s likely to be a warm Christmas for Ruth Negron and her family, thanks to a local heating company.
Finally, it's likely to be a warm Christmas for Ruth Negron and her family, thanks to a local heating company.
The past few Christmases had been blue, and wintertime a source of dread for Schuylkill Avenue resident Negron and her four children, whose two-story brick home was largely unheated.
For the past four years, Negron and her family tried to keep warm by using electric space heaters.
“It was colder inside the house than it was outside,” said Robert Newpher, vice president of sales for Comfort Pro Inc. of Maidencreek Township.
The family, Newpher said, had multiple space heaters, “but their electric was not up to par to use them all at once, so they had to huddle inside one room together to try to keep warm.”
Free heating system
This is the eighth year that the heating and air conditioning company, Comfort Pro Inc., has provided a free Lennox heating system to a deserving Berks County family through its holiday event, Comfort Pro Cares.
The cost of the new heating system, including accessory equipment and labor, is valued at more than $6,200, Newpher said.
Newpher was one of the Comfort Pro officials who evaluated the Negron home earlier this year.
Starting in October, churches, businesses and individuals were invited to nominate a family in need of a stable heating source. Nominees had to be Berks County residents, own their own home and have a nonfunctioning heating unit.
All applications were reviewed by a panel, with three finalists getting in-home evaluations by a Comfort Pro team.
Only one winner is chosen each year, Newpher said, and Negron's situation was the most dire.
“A few of the nominees had heat, but were looking to upgrade,” Newpher said. “Our program is to really help somebody who needs it.”
While this is the eighth official Comfort Pro Cares event, the company has helped families with little or no heat to get the warmth they needed for years before the Christmastime program began, Newpher said.
Reach out to community
It was the idea of owners Doug and Craig Weisman to create an actual event in order to reach out to the community to find a family in need, Newpher said.
“We wanted to see if there was somebody really hurting out there who we could help,” Newpher said.
After four years of living in a chilly house, Ruth and her family couldn't be happier, she said.
“It is so exciting,” Negron said. “I am overjoyed. Never in my life did I expect something like this.”
Negron has four children, aged 13 to 24, and works full-time at the Burger King restaurant in Wyomissing while attending the full-time massage therapy program at Berks Technical Institute.
“I've been working in fast food for 30 years, and I love it,” Negron said. “I'm training in massage therapy right now, and I love that, too. But I need two jobs to take care of my kids.”
Negron has a 13-year-old son, Philip, a student at Northwest Middle School. Her 19-year-old daughter, Kristina, is a student at Reading Area Community College.
Negron said her daughter, a student in graphic art and design, recently won a number of awards for her designs.
“So we're on a winning streak right now,” Negron said.
Her 18-year-old son, Jose, is a student at Reading High School. Her 24-year-old son, Alexander, is employed part-time and helps Negron with bills.
“My 13-year old is ecstatic!” Negron said. “We did what we had to, but sometimes we were cold.”
Couldn't believe her ears
Nominated by Ruth Zullinger, her teacher at BTI, Negron said she couldn't believe her ears when she got the call that she had won the heating unit.
“Sometimes your name gets thrown in the pot, but it doesn't mean you'll get picked,” Negron said. “I was skeptical; I crossed my fingers, but didn't expect to win. When they called, I had to ask twice: Did I actually win?
“I haven't stopped crying since they called me and I'm about to cry again,” Negron said. “It is amazing.”
Beth Zullinger, director of the massage therapy program at BTI and Negron's teacher, thinks Negron is pretty amazing, too.
“They couldn't have picked a better person,” Zullinger said. “Ruth is an amazing person and is working really hard to change her life and help her children. She works full-time and comes to class full-time. She wakes up super-early every morning, works at her job, then rushes to BTI. She's going to school to make her family's life better.”
When talking together in Zullinger's office, the topic of cold winters came up and Negron mentioned that her home really had no reliable heat source.
Zullinger had seen the Comfort Pro Cares information on Facebook and knew she had the right nominee.
“I sent them an email explaining her situation,” Zullinger said. “I was so excited when she won. I think they are an amazing company and it's awesome that they did this for her.
“I was so happy for her that I actually cried when I heard the news,” Zullinger said.
Received 11 nominations
Doug Weisman, CEO of Comfort Pro, said, in a news release that the company received 11 nominations this year for the free heating system.
“It was so moving to read all the letters, especially the Negron family's story, and to know ComfortPro could make a difference in their lives, especially during the holiday season,” Weisman said.
By mid-December, ComfortPro had installed a Lennox high efficiency gas furnace, programmable thermostat and air cleaner. The team also replaced the existing return ductwork and increased supply outlets.
“I feel so blessed that my family was chosen,” Negron said. “I can't thank ComfortPro enough. I have no words for what they've done for us.”
While the Negron family will be paying the natural gas bills, the furnace will keep costs down because of its efficiency, Newpher said.
“It makes us all feel really warm inside,” Newpher said. “That's what we're all about: We love helping people.”
Contact Marylouise Sholly: firstname.lastname@example.org.