While Georgia is a southern state, that does not mean that its residents are immune from cold winter weather.
In the small towns of Gainesville and Cleveland, located in the northern Appalachian region of the state where our partner’s LAMP Ministries and Caring Hands Ministries, respectively, work, this month low temperatures have dipped below freezing placing an additional financial burden on struggling families and seniors living on meager fixed incomes.
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing many breadwinners to lose their jobs, they are more hard-pressed than ever to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table, and pay their electric and gas bills.
That’s’ why this year we hope to increase the amount of utility assistance grant funding for our partners in Georgia, as well as in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Often, families and seniors come to our partners seeking assistance to keep their heat and lights on after having nowhere else to turn.
Through the program, our partners can provide them with the “hand-up,” usually less than $100, to ensure their utilities are not disconnected on the coldest days of the year.
Also, after years of operating our utility assistance program, we have heard many times how not only this relatively small amount of money has kept them warm in their homes — it has prevented them from becoming homeless.
Although they are fully paid up on their rent, we have learned that frequently landlords will evict tenants who cannot pay their utility bills fearing that next month they may not be able to pay their rent, or without heat, pipes may burst in below-freezing temperatures.
In addition, states’ child protective services may even take children away from parents if their living conditions — including heat and electricity — cause a threat to their wellbeing.
But, again, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, untold thousands of children, parents, the elderly and disabled — many of them veterans who have served our country with distinction — have been able to stay warm in the home they love.