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Program Offers Families New Furnaces — for Free

Nominations for the Heat U.P. Wisconsin program will be accepted through Saturday for families deserving a new furnace at no cost.

A coach for the Saukville Rebels as well as Port Washington Piranha Youth Wrestling Club, Junior Rosado gave his time to these teams as a way to be along side his kids as they compete as well as an outlet for giving back to the comunity.

Never did he expect to be paid for such volunteerism — but little did he know someone was watching, and his community-oriented way of life earned his family a brand new furnance installed in their home at no cost, whatsoever.

Rosado and his family were one of 70 households to received a free furnace last winter through the Heat U.P. Wisconsin program.

Lennox furnace dealers in Southeastern Wisconsin as well as in upper Michigan participate, donating furnances with free installation to selected nominees.

The program doesn't necessarily look for just low-income families, said Gary Knaub, a territoy manager with Lennox. Instead, the group looks for military people, families suffering any type of hardship, a person who does a particularly noteable job of giving back to the community.

"A lot of these people ... they look like they have nice houses and (the judges who determine the winners) go in and they find out they have stories," Knaub said. "There's so many stories … they’re incredible."

The program is in its third year, and installed 57 furnaces the first year. This year, Knaub said they have a goal to install 100 furnaces.  

One of the dealers who participates in the program is Troy Nice of Comfort Solutions in Saukville. Nice said his company decided to participate because it seemed like a great way to be able to give back to the community.

"The winters — they're brutal," Nice said. "The cost of utilities is constantly going up, too  …. So, for someone who’s already strapped for cash, it's just a nice perk for them — it's just a positive boost for them."

Nice took care of Rosado's furnance installation.

"I thought that was great," Rosado said. "I thanked (Nice) so much, I didn’t know what to say. ... It just showed my kids that giving back to the community and volunteering your time is a great thing to do for the community."

Since then, Rosado said his kids have volunteered with sports organizations as well as the local Food Pantry.

Nominations are being taken through Saturday, and people can submit a name by filling out a form on the organization's website; the only stipulations is that the nominee must own the home and it must be a forced air furnace system.

Last year, the program got 1,600 submissions, "which is a good number, but I'm sure there's more than 1,600 that could use our help," Knaub said.

Installations will take place across the state on Oct. 6.

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