Helping Families Keep Warm over the Winter

Helping Families Keep Warm over the Winter

In the small hard-hit communities of Jefferson City, Tennessee, Beattyville and London, Kentucky, and Cleveland and Gainesville, Georgia, 1,155 residents are still living in their homes, toasty warm even on the coldest days of the year.

These children, their parents and elders all benefited to our utility assistance program which kept them having to choose between paying their electric or gas bill, or putting food on the table or buying medicine they need.

Thanks to the generosity of the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® not only were they able to prevent having their utilities disconnected, as we tragically have learned from our program partners who administer the funds to those most in need in their communities, but save them from eviction as landlords kick out tenants who cannot pay their utility bills even if they are current on their rent.

We have also learned that even if parents own their own home, having their electricity or gas cut off, the local government can split families up by taking young children and placing them in foster care in when the home has no heat or power.

In most cases, people have simply fallen on hard times and struggle to keep all their bills paid but there just isn’t enough money to go around from month to month, particularly in winter when utility bills can skyrocket.

Among them is Dawn of Beattyville who developed health issues which prevented her from working.

“After paying my rent and other bills, I wasn’t able to come up with enough money to pay my electric bill,” she told us. “I received a shut off notice from the amount of $171.12.”

With no family or friends she could ask for financial assistance, Dawn turned to Americans Helping Americans® partner Cumberland Mountain Outreach for help in getting her bill current, and she has odd jobs lined up so she will be able to pay her bill in the future, without the threat of a disconnection notice hanging over her head.

For others, such as Lisa, another Beattyville resident, having their electricity cut off can be life-threatening.

“Thank you for the assistance you provided for my family,” she told us. “I am on oxygen to help me breathe. Without your help my electricity would have been turned off. From the bottom of my heart, Thank You!”

Dawn and Lisa are just two of those 1,155 of those helped in the past year with utility assistance when they had nowhere else to turn – the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®.

Right now in Beattyville the low temperatures are below freezing and there are many others there and in Jefferson City, London, Cleveland and Gainesville who are worried how they’re going to pay all their bills on time before their power is disconnected.

You can help prevent that from happening with your gift of $25, $50 or more today, to prevent the loss of electricity, or perhaps even their home, tomorrow.

 

Congratulations to Susan Murray – Helper of the Month for December!

Congratulations to Susan Murray – Helper of the Month for December!

We would like to acknowledge Susan Murray as the recipient of the Americans Helping Americans® – Helper of the Month award for December! Congratulations Susan!

Susan is a sweet, kind soul and has volunteered for several events for our partner, Caring Hands Ministries in Cleveland, Georgia. Susan is always willing to help whenever, where ever and how ever she can.

Susan was homeless and living in her van for quite some time. But even when she was homeless, she was always there to help. It was important for her to give back even when she was having struggles herself.

She has always had a good attitude and wanted people to know that with God, all things are possible. She never wavered from her faith and belief that things were going to get better and that everything is in God’s time. Executive director of Caring Hands Ministries, Lafaye Murphy, says, “She is a joy to be around and I always know that if I need volunteers, that I can always count on Susan to be there to pitch in.”

Susan has since gotten into subsidized housing and is doing well.

The Helper of the Month award is designed to show the amazing, wonderful, hard-working, and dedicated people in the Appalachian communities we serve every day. Each month, we’ll be sharing these stories with you in the hopes that you’ll walk away as inspired as we are to do good things in your community!

A Home is Repaired Just in Time for Christmas

A Home is Repaired Just in Time for Christmas

For Americans Helping Americans® partner Big Creek People in Action, which operates a home rehab program in the summer in McDowell County, West Virginia, replacing leaking roofs are challenging, and expensive.

“You need to know what you are going to do or you can really make a mess of someone’s roof,” says BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson. “We do try to do at least one a year but it is so hard to pick out the person that is going to benefit from it. I think everyone in McDowell County needs a new roof and bathroom floor!”

This summer, she chose Earl and Denise’s house, which was leaking so badly on the backside that it was beginning to destroy the ceilings and some walls inside. Even if it was repaired soon, “there was going to be a great deal of damage from it.”

Marsha knew she was tackling a big job that would take several weeks of volunteers from churches and colleges and things were going according to plan, until one of her work supervisors was injured and was off work for quite some time.

“This really put a kink in our roofing plans since he was the one who was supervising the project,” she said. “I felt so bad about leaving this roof in limbo and not having the sides closed in because that rain could just blow right in.

Finally, a group of college students arrived and were able to finish the job just in time before the first snowfall.

Marsha said she likes watching a show called Maine Cabin Masters and they are always talking about having to get a roof on before the first snowfall and talking about how the roof would “button up” the house for winter.

“Now I know exactly how they feel!!! I now refer to their house as “The Button House.”

Christmas day is expected to be as low as 38 degrees with rain forecast for the entire week after. This certainly was nothing short of a Christmas miracle for Earl and Denise.

Struggling Single Dad Receives the Assistance He Needs to Get Back on his Feet

Struggling Single Dad Receives the Assistance He Needs to Get Back on his Feet

Bob is a single dad who had been unemployed while struggling to care for his young son.

He was eager to find a job and work, but did not have proper clothes to go to job interviews, and could not even afford to put gas in his car to look for work. Plus, one of his tires was flat and needed to be replaced.

Bob did not think he had anywhere to turn for help, until he learned of Americans Helping Americans® partner in Cleveland, Georgia, Caring Hands Ministry.

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Bob was able to receive a small financial grant from Caring Hands which enabled him to purchase the necessary clothes, replace his tire and put a tank of gas in his car.

“This particular dad had lost his job because of problems with his vehicle,” reported Caring Hands executive director Lafaye Murphy. “He got the car fixed and we were able to give him some leads on jobs. We provided him with gas money so he could go look for a job.”

Within a short time, Bob was offered a job working in a local restaurant – but there was a catch, he needed a new pair of non-slip shoes.

Shoes to give away

“When he got a job, we were able to buy him the necessary shoes that his job required,” said Lafaye. “He still has his job and the father and son are doing well.”

Lafaye noted that without the grant funding provided to Caring Hands, Bob may have still been unemployed to this day, but thanks to the generosity of the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® all it took was a few dollars to get this hard-working single dad back on his feet, and in a brand-new pair of shoes his job required.

Winter Coats ‘Truly a Blessing’ for Hundreds of Children in Kentucky

Winter Coats ‘Truly a Blessing’ for Hundreds of Children in Kentucky

At Beattyville, Kentucky, Elementary School, Lee Country Family Resource Center director Sherry Lanham has seen it all – students coming to school in the dead of winter with a just a sweatshirt or thin sweater to keep them warm.

This fall, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® every child in grades K-5 (and some in grades 6-8) was able to receive a heavy winter coat provided by Americans Helping Americans®.

“The coats were such a valuable gift our students,” said resource center director Sherry Lanham. “One girl was still wearing the one she had gotten last year from Americans Helping Americans® even though it was clearly too small for her now.

“She has very little heat in her home and she and her brother sleep in their coats at night,” Sherry added. “She was overjoyed to get a new coat.

More than 80 percent of the children who attend Beattyville Elementary, where the resource center is located, are living at the poverty level and many never receive a new coat – other than the ones provided by Americans Helping Americans®.

“Winters in Kentucky can be very cold and snowy and without these coats many of our children would have been waiting for buses in the cold and bad weather. These coats were truly a blessing.”