Heat-Up St. Louis was founded in June 2000, by nationally recognized public relations strategist Gentry W. Trotter, who also worked for twenty years as a public relations consultant for the Laclede Gas Company in St. Louis. Trotter was primarily responsible for community outreach and fundraiser for the utility's Dollar-Help program. After raising millions of dollars for the utility sponsored energy assistance program, he along with several other community-minded volunteers began on a journey to encompass a regional approach. This included Illinois and other parts outside of the natural gas company's service area in Missouri. Heat-Up St. Louis is currently the only all-volunteer, independent regional energy assistance and advocacy charity of its kind.
Trotter felt the marketplace needed to engage the public with special event fundraising, and a regional independent voice with a strong advocacy position. There also needed to be a program where regional public education and public debates occurred on utility rates, health, and safety issues. Also there needed to be a major effort to provide utility counsel, or direction for assistance, and referrals for various energy assistance programs through community initiatives. Heat-Up St. Louis began its first fundraising efforts in December of 2000 with donated brand new hats and caps. The Winter Saturday and Summer Hat and Cap Festivals were held from December 2000 through September 2001. The retail space for the Washington Avenue location was donated by fellow board member Kevin McGowan. The retail space in the Central West End was donated by internationally known interactive television and entertainment mogul Edward J. "Ted" Koplar. Trotter serves as the volunteer president of the all-volunteer board of directors. The current board membership is composed of 44 area civic, business, religious, and political leaders. This non-profit corporation helps the elderly, disabled and low-income families with small children in Missouri and Illinois with their energy bills throughout the year through the solicitation of small and large contributions from the public, private and governmental sectors. 100% of all donations go for helping the needy, as all administrative expenses are underwritten.
The charity acts as a regional safety net when funding from the government and utility-charity programs falls short. Initially a number of community and business leaders have given their time to serve without compensation on the all-volunteer board of directors: Earlier on, Melanie McVay DiLeo, vice president of community relations for Citigroup, served as the chairwoman; James. H. Buford, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and noted vascular surgeon, Dr. James Knight were co-chairs; loft developer Kevin McGowan served as executive vice president; Joe Pepe, president and CEO of Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis served as vice president; Norman S. Newmark, Esq., attorney and counselor at law services as secretary and general counsel; Attorney Richard M. Wise, a certified public accountant at Wise, Reynolds & Scott, LLC is also the treasurer; M. Michelle Ayala, director of operations of Kaufman Broadcast served as assistant treasurer; noted civic leader Donna Knight was chair of the Women's Auxiliary; J. Kim Tucci, president and co-owner of The Pasta House Co., served as chairman emeritus. Robert Wm. Fulstone, vice president and general manager of AviMail Midwest Region is still chair of the nominating committee. Please see : “board” tab for updated 2011 leadership. Lightstream Studio was the official webdesigner. Nova Business Systems served as a internet consultant. Clayton Studios served as the pro bona radio support media.
Heat-Up St. Louis operates Cool Down St. Louis it's summer program and Help-Up USA for markets outside of the greater St. Louis market. All monies collected in a particular community stays there, except if a donor directs elsewhere. All donations are tax-deductible. The summer program, Cool Down St. Louis was established to provide air-conditioners and pay for electric bills for at-risk seniors, the disabled and small critically-ill children only. "The Be A Good Neighbor, and Check On Your Neighbors," community outreach program which attempts to help save lives in the summer, was applauded by the Missouri Public Service Commission. United States President George W. Bush and other state and local politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties continue to praise the all-volunteer regional effort.
Since its inception more than 250,000 people have been impacted primarily in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the counties of St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Iron, Washington, Warren, Lincoln and Butler in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair, Monroe, and Clinton in Illinois, including counties in the Cape, Paducah and Southern Illinois areas (during The Pasta House Co. Buy A Flame fundraiser) with their energy assistance needs in 2002, and 2003. Others counties currently being serviced may not be listed in this presentation. The charity has received more than $6.5 million in combined donations.