Even though she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure, 78-year-old Mary Germany opened her home more than 10 years ago to a number of foster children. Although she no longer has foster kids living with her, she still talks about how much she loved caring for the children. Some of them, like 7-year-old Zarria, still visit her from time to time.
Living on a fixed income from Social Security, Ms. Germany still makes mortgage payments on her house. Plus, the medications she takes for arthritis and high blood pressure are expensive. To add additional stress, during the past winter her gas bill kept going up and up – over $300 each month. With the pressures of all the other bills facing her, she was unable to keep up with her heating bill. She called her energy provider, and they arranged for her to pay in three installments. She was trying to pay the installments herself when she saw an ad on television about the H.E.A.T. program that assists people who need help paying their energy bill. She applied for assistance and received the help she needed to get her through that rough period in her life.
Ms. Germany would like to say this to H.E.A.T. donors – “Thank God for you. I truly do thank you. H.E.A.T stepped up to the plate to help me in a miraculous way. It was a blessing.”
Although she is battling complications from diabetes that include needing seven insulin shots per day, Carol Rodriquez endures her health issues in order to raise her 8-year-old adopted son, Joshua, 8-year-old grandson O’sha, and two granddaughters, 6-year-old Sirena and 2-year-old Valentina.
Ms. Rodriquez receives only $670 per month from SSI and Social Security. Her medical bills total over $2,000 per month, which is primarily covered by Medicaid and Medicare. But her three grandchildren suffer from ADHD, which adds even more expenses to her already cash-strapped household. Fortunately her home is paid for, so she has no mortgage or rent expenses. Even with all the daily challenges she faces, Ms. Rodriquez stated that her son and grandchildren help her as much as she helps them. “They give me a reason to get out the bed in the morning,” she said.
When she received a cutoff notice for her energy bill and discovered her money had disappeared or had been stolen, Ms. Rodriquez sought help from every source she knew, including family members, but no one could help her. She finally applied for emergency energy assistance through H.E.A.T. – and received the needed help the same day.
“The funding came at the right time,” she said. “The caring people who give to help those who are in need deserve a lot of thanks.”
After the death of her daughter, Mildred Wilson found herself not only dealing with grief – but also with the responsibility of raising her daughter’s three children, Akeliah, Cienna and Alaysia. Ms. Wilson also has a 15 year old son, Willie.
To further complicate things, she is disabled and therefore unable to work. She has had surgery on both legs and suffers from bipolar disorder, which she controls by taking three types of medication. She is so grateful that Medicaid pays for the majority of her medication so she can take care of her family and live as close to a normal life as possible. The family of five survives on limited Social Security income.
But Ms. Wilson recently found herself three months behind on her energy bills; she went everywhere she could think of trying to get some help. When a friend told her about H.E.A.T., she applied and was helped the very same day! According to Ms. Wilson, this is the first time she has received energy assistance.
She wants H.E.A.T. donors to know how much she appreciates the help. “I appreciate what they have done for us and for other families like us who really need help. The people who donate to H.E.A.T. deserve an award for being so generous.”
Vidalia resident Wanda Poole knows how fortunate she is to be employed in this challenging economy. Even so, her take-home pay after deductions is only $329 per month. More than half of that total pays for health insurance, and the balance has to cover all other expenses.
To make the situation even more challenging, Ms. Poole’s daughter, Michelle, lost her job forcing her and her three children to move in with Ms. Poole to assist with their care. Ms. Poole also cares for her 9-year-old granddaughter, Bailey, who also was living with her at the time. With the additional people living in the home, and the unusually cold temperatures in Georgia this past winter, Ms. Poole was faced with a high heating bill that she just could not cover.
After receiving a cut-off notice, she did not know what she would do. Someone told her about H.E.A.T., and despite being reluctant to ask for help in the beginning, she applied for assistance and was given the help she needed.
“I would like to say “thanks” to the H.E.A.T. donors,” she says. “They are people from heaven, and I sincerely thank them.”
Josephine J. Waters, who prefers to be called Judy, is having a difficult time making ends meet these days due to many recent challenges in her life.
Living on just $694 a month, she simply does not have enough money to cover the bare necessities of life, including rent, electricity, natural gas, groceries and medicines. Judy has been through two back surgeries and hip replacement surgery, and she suffers from many other health issues. “I am in constant pain daily,” said Judy. “It’s just not a good way to live.”
During the winter months, Judy’s natural gas bill was extremely high because of the exceptional cold weather; she just could not afford to pay it. Although she can’t recall how she heard about H.E.A.T., Judy is grateful that a program was available to help her when she was desperately in need. She applied for assistance and received the help she needed to pay her energy bill.
To the H.E.A.T. donors, Judy would like to say – “Bless you! The money came at a good time. It helped me pay my utility bill.”
Sixty-one year-old Norma Clark always worked hard and savored her independence. Beginning in her teens, she pursued a variety of career paths. She always looked forward to a career change to learn new skills and make new friendships. But she was silently in pain.
Eventually the pain became too much. The severe carpal tunnel syndrome left her unable to do the simplest of things like take a bath. Arthritis and vision concerns were added complications.
She reluctantly took the advice of a friend to apply for disability and was blessed to almost immediately receive disability benefits. But she still faced obstacles. She had no medical insurance (a 24-month wait for Medicare), and her income would only be a small portion of a salary. But she didn’t complain.
Always living a frugal life, Ms. Clark was determined to make ends meet. But despite being energy conscious and wearing extra clothes during winter, her energy bills were high. And her limited income impacted her payment options.
Then, she learned about H.E.A.T. from someone who received help through the program. With no other options, she decided to apply, thinking she would not be eligible. But she was.
In her words, Ms. Clark says, “I felt so blessed to know that there are programs and people who are willing to give to help those like myself who are placed in situations that they never thought would happen to them. I am honored to have a chance to say thank you.”
When Donald James, a 63-year-old husband and father of five, began experiencing severe dizzy spells and migraines, he thought he was having a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital where he learned that his blood pressure was 200/100 mm Hg. The American Heart Association considers a reading this high to be a “Hypertensive Crisis” requiring immediate care. The emergency room attendant prescribed medicine for Mr. James’ blood pressure and migraines. Unfortunately, this relief came at a high price – just six blood pressure pills cost him $85.
Mr. James went home, but got no relief from the migraines. He returned to the emergency room and was prescribed a new drug for his blood pressure – one almost twice as expensive as the last. Now he was paying $160 for six pills.
In total, Mr. James spends $250 per month on medicine alone. This is in addition to necessities such as food, housing and utilities. “I live on a fixed income,” said Mr. James, who sometimes does not have enough money to cover all of his bills.
About five years ago, Mr. James heard about the H.E.A.T. program, but never needed any help. Not now. With the drastic increase in the cost of his medicine, Mr. James could no longer afford his energy bill. After applying for assistance with H.E.A.T., he was given enough money to help with his bill for two months. “This is the first time [I’ve ever received any aid], said Mr. James “[H.E.A.T.] really helped me out of a bind. Once I get back on my feet, I’m going to donate and help others too.”
To say the last year has been trying for Anika Scipio is an understatement. After finding the courage to leave an abusive relationship, she moved into a shelter for battered women with her two children, Cameron, six, and Gracie, one. (Anika’s 14-year-old daughter, Shalima, stayed with her grandmother.)
Desperate for a fresh start, Anika moved from Marietta to Canton, Georgia. Once there, she and her children moved into transitional housing where, Anika says, they can live for three years as long as she maintains her utilities. Finally, her life was on the right track!
But when Anika lost her job and could no longer afford to pay her heating bill, her world started to crumble again. She was two months behind on her bill and facing disconnection when she heard about H.E.A.T. from her local Division of Family and Children Services office.
A first-time recipient, Anika applied and was given the help she needed to keep her heat on, allowing her children to remain in their home.
Anika had this to say to H.E.A.T. donors: “I know you’re giving from your heart and may not be able to put a face on the person receiving your help. But your donations kept my kids warm last year, and I just have to say “Thank you.”
Tekuila Carr, a full-time college student and single mom to Dareus, one, Cordele, two, and Hahleenah, 14, was barely covering the bills with her part-time job when her babysitter said she was raising her rates. There was no way Tekuila could afford to pay more.
She was out of work…again.
Tekuila was doing everything she could, but the bills were mounting, and she was getting further behind. She had received a disconnection notice for her gas service when a friend told her about H.E.A.T. Tekuila applied and finally received the help she so desperately needed.
“She was a godsend,” Tekuila said of her friend. “H.E.A.T. is a great resource! At the time I didn’t have any other options. I would have been without gas during a very cold time of the year.”
With things stable at home, Tekuila was able to focus on finding a new job. “I don’t believe in living off assistance. I want to work and provide for myself and my children.”
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