Things heat up at the Lawrence Keane

The American Legion Lawrence F. Keane Post had a new boiler installed at no cost to its members through the united efforts of local organizations. Student volunteer Juan Garcia, instructor Orvil Boatswain, Angel Gonzalez of Combind Oil, Bob Bieder of Westchester Square Plumbing Supply (top, l-r), student Leandro Gil, instructor Pete Gonzalez, post commander Louis Durante, post member Nick Medici and John Korres from the office of Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (bottom, l-r) pitched in. Photo by Amanda Marinaccio

The American Legion Lawrence F. Keane Post 1498 will be warm this winter thanks to the cooperation and generosity of local organizations and individuals, and a new $7,000 oil heat system.

For years, Louis Durante, commander of the Keane Post, and Keane Post members have struggled with a useless boiler, installed in 1975 when the building was constructed. Durante was forced to close the building more than once in 2008, when temperatures dropped and the boiler produced no heat.

“There were days we had to close, it was just so cold in there,” Durante said. “It continued to burn a lot of oil but due to water damage and leakage, it didn’t work.”

Durante reached out to Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, who immediately called Bob Bieder of Westchester Square Plumbing Supply.

“Their heating bill had been very high and they were in need of a new system but didn’t have money to purchase one,” Bieder said.

Bieder contacted Angel Gonzalez of Combind Oil, the Bronx representative for Oil Heat Cares (OHC), the non-profit arm of the National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers (NAOHSM). OHC helps needy groups and businesses repair old oil heat equipment and obtain new equipment.

“We help those currently in crisis get back on their feet,” explained Judy Garber, who chairs OHC’s board of directors. “This project was a perfect fit for us and I’m glad we were able to help.”

Westchester Square Plumbing Supply and Bronx-based Automatic Heating Supply provided oil heat equipment at discounted rates. The Keane Post obtained a new burner thanks to a grant from Weil-McLain Boilers.

Through a partnership between NAOHSM and the city’s vocational high schools, OHC recruited students from Alfred E. Smith High School to install new oil heat equipment under the supervision of two instructors,.

“This is a great learning experience for me and helps me because I plan on this being my career,” student Leandro Gil, 16, said. “It’s hands on experience.”

According to Gonzalez, when the job is complete, the Keane Post will boast a fully functional oil heat system worth $7,000. The new boiler was of no cost to the American Legion. In return, Durante has offered to lend space to OHC for upcoming events.

“We have about 150 members and all the men are very happy,” said Durante. “We have dinner here twice a week and we provide space to local organizations too, so it was important we fixed the boiler.”

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