More and more families are scrambling with help paying to keep the lights on, and the house warm. At WOWT 6 News we continue receiving contact of those in need.
Local charities are working at capacity helping the needy. Take for instance pantry vs. money donations. Staff at Saint Vincent de Paul says the public will respond when toilet paper is in need but when it comes to money that support drifts away. That cash is used for funding projects, like helping with utilities.
Melody Mumphrey's definition of rock bottom may be different than most since her home went up in flames this past New Year’s Eve. Mumphrey and her two sons are making do with what they have but credit the help of Saint Vincent de Paul. "Me and my kids have nothing like nothing, literally no beds. I've called everywhere but that was the only place, you know, but I went to numerous agencies and they help me with little things, I'm grateful for that because I don't know how long it is going to take me,” Mumphrey said.
Anne Severes oversees projects that help those like Mumphrey. Even at the district office, pantry shelves struggle to stay stocked; still they pledge to help as much as they can with everything from food to paying utilities.
“If we can't keep them in their home then the next step is, ok they are evicted. So, the next place they have to pay a deposit, they have to pay first months rent, they have to pay reconnection fees for the utilities and we've already created another $2000 problem that we could have solved by keeping them in their home,” Severes said.
Here's an interesting perspective into the funding.
What are called "poor boxes" inside churches like St. Cecilia Cathedral and others, anything from a penny on up goes to funding. Last year the fund reached $21,000, up 20%. Nearly every last dime was spent including $6,500 for utility assistance and $1,600 for furniture and clothing.
All of which help's those like Mumphrey, who is in the process of restarting her life after the fire. "I just tell my boys we are going to get back together, I’m going to get everything back, they are just worried about getting things back from Christmas, I just told them that is material stuff we just need to the basic living,” Mumphrey said.
In terms of energy assistance, OPPD for example says customers must meet several guidelines, including making 3 payments over 6 months. However, if utilities are shut off in the summer, and without payment, they will not be restored in winter.