This past week certainly made it evident to all of us living in the mountains of western North Carolina that winter is going to be with us for a while.
With the drop in temperatures and cold winds filling our days, the Waddell Client Service Center of Eblen Charities has again seen an increased number of families calling upon us to help them keep warm in these weeks of winter.
Since the first week in November, the staff and volunteers at Eblen have been working tirelessly assisting thousands of children, adults, and families fend off the cold and to ensure that they have heat in their homes and that power stays on during the most difficult time of the year.
Going into the fourth month of energy assistance with a record number of families assisted and combining energy funds from other sources, Eblen Charities is continuing to reach out to those in need thanks to the partnership with Buncombe County Health and Human Services.
Beginning this past December , Eblen Charities began administering the Federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) for Buncombe County.
LIEAP is a Federally-funded program that provides payment to help eligible households pay their heating bills. Funds from the Low Income Energy Assistance Program provide one payment a year for homes with a primary heating source that is fuel oil, kerosene, as well as electricity, natural gas, wood, or coal.
As we began the program on December 1st, it was open only to households containing a member who was 60 years old or older or having someone disabled and receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services and who were at least 130% of the poverty level (please see chart on page 6).
Beginning January 1st, we were able to open the program to any and all homes who are at least 130% of the poverty level. By being able to do this, Eblen Charities is able to continue to reach out to families who may have already had assistance or need help later in the winter to stay warm until the warm weather of spring arrives.
Families who may have received assistance through other heating and utility assistance programs may be eligible for the LIEAP funds giving these hard working and deserving families a little extra breathing room as the cold winter arrives.
“LIEAP could not have come at a better time for our clients. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to again partner with Buncombe County Health and Human Services with LIEAP and help provide additional assistance to help so many of our families keep warm this winter,” tells Bill Murdock, Executive Director of Eblen Charities. “Thanks to them, this year we have more funds than ever before with the LIEAP program to continue to reach out and keep those who are most susceptible to the cold keep warm. Thanks to Buncombe County DSS allowing us to add the Low Income Energy Assistance Program to our heating outreach, a great many more families who seek help through Eblen will not be left out in the cold. Since this past December we have assisted nearly 1,400 families and spent nearly $400,000 in LIEAP alone.”
Funding for utility and heating assistance comes from a number of sources. In addition to the money Eblen Charities raises through events and donations, we receive federal funds through our partnership with Buncombe County Department of Social Services’ Crisis Intervention Program (CIP), Emergency Assistance Program, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, and Duke Energy’s Energy Neighbors Program.
We are honored to be part of a partnership with the Buncombe County Commissioners and the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services which allows us to touch so many children, adults, and families and help them to keep warm during these cold days and nights. Our thanks once again to County Manager Wanda Greene, Assistant County Manager and BCHHS Director Mandy Stone, Phillip Hardin, Tracie Franklin, and Jim Holland of BCHHS.
Our gratitude also to all who have joined us in reaching out to keep our families warm through our heating programs. Individuals, families, and companies have been tremendously generous in sending donations ranging from a few dollars to a thousand or more to help families who find themselves in times of need keep warm. If you would like to join us in helping the families we serve keep warm contact Bill Murdock at Eblen Charities at 242-2848 or via email at [email protected]