CAPIC’s Fuel Assistance Program Provides a Vital Service to Residents

Under the leadership of Executive Director
Robert Reppucci, Community Action Programs Inter City (CAPIC) has been a
national model in addressing the needs of low-income families in Chelsea,
Revere, and Winthrop.

CAPIC’s fuel assistance program has been one
of its most utilized services, aiding more than 2,700 residents in the three
communities.

Since his appointment last July as energy
director, Giancarlo DeSario has overseen the program that is in its sixth
decade of existence. The recent addition
of well-known Chelsea community leader Henry Wilson as an outreach coordinator
has also helped expande the program and bring recognition to the valuable
services CAPIC provides in many areas.

DeSario explained the process by which
residents can apply for fuel assistance.

“If someone finds themselves in need –
whether they’re a tenant, homeowner, family or single person – they should call
the CAPIC fuel assistance line to set up an appointment,” said DeSario. “We
would conduct an interview with the individual and review all their paperwork.
We’ll let them know if we need additional information and then we’ll process
their application in about 30-45 days.”

Candidates for fuel assistance must meet
some income guidelines.

“In order to qualify for fuel assistance,
you need to be at 60 per cent of the state median income, which for a single
person would be $35,510; for a family of four people, it would be $68,280,”
said DeSario.

CAPIC’s program covers heating expenses
between the months of November and April.

According to DeSario, the fuel assistance
program is funded through federal and state grants. CAPIC is currently waiting
for a supplemental budget to be approved by the state.

“What we’re looking for is $30 million extra
dollars in funding to help out with this heating season, but we’re looking
closer to receiving $11 million,” said DeSario. He indicated that CAPIC has
been working with Chelsea’s state legislators to secure additional funding.

DeSario has made a point during his tenure
to “get out in the field” and meet individual clients. He has earned praise for
his accessibility.

“I’m always available – I hand out my direct
extension to clients all the time,” said DeSario. “I find it’s really important
that if you’re going to serve clients correctly, you have to be in touch with
them and understand their needs.”

DeSario has local roots

Giancarlo DeSario grew up in Maine, but he

has always had local connections. “I’ve been coming to East Boston since I was
a child. My mother (Yolanda DeSario) moved here from Italy when she was 10
years old. And my grandmother (Maria Caserta) has been living in East Boston for
50 years.”

DeSario attended high school in Maine and
graduated from Roger Williams University where he studied Business and Legal
Studies.

He began his career in woodworking and was
promoted to the position of project manager, working with clients in Manhattan
and Long Island, New York.

From there, DeSario entered the solar
industry as a district site surveyor and rose through the company to become
operations manager, overseeing several projects
throughout the New England region.

DeSario came to CAPIC last July. “I saw a
position was open and I applied for it. I was ready to go back to my old job
when I got a call from Executive Director Robert Repucci, requesting that I
come in for an interview.”

Like
the entire staff at CAPIC and residents throughout the area, DeSario has come
to appreciate Repucci’s exceptional leadership of the agency. Repucci arrived
at CAPIC in 1972 and has been of Chelsea’s most influential and revered
leaders.

“Mr. Repucci is an outstanding leader of
CAPIC and in the community as a whole,” said DeSario. “He really pushes you to
be a better person. He’s inspiring. He wants you to put people ahead of
yourself, and you can tell, because he does that. He leads by example and I
respect that about him.”

DeSario has also been impressed by the
dedicated and knowledgeable staff at CAPIC.

“I was fortunate to come in to an agency
where we have some really key players who know the programs in and out,” said
DeSario. “The transition in to this industry was tough, because you don’t know
it – but I was lucky to have a very good support group here to help out. They
really care about the programs succeeding.”

DeSario said he finds his job rewarding and
he appreciates the kind words from clients.

“There is nothing
better than when we get a letter (of gratitude) or a phone call from a client
who had no heat and we were able to restore a heating system that went out
overnight, replace a heating system with a new one, or weatherize someone’s
home,” said DeSario.

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CAPIC’s Fuel Assistance Program Provides a Vital Service to Residents

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