Weatherford Democrat

Local News

July 31, 2008

Utility help available, but strained

Local charities needing donations more than ever

Chelsea L. McGowan

Staff Writer

Just as more and more Weatherford residents are feeling a financial pinch due to higher utility bills, several area need-based aid organizations are experiencing a strain on their resources as they try to help citizens weather the storm.

At Center of Hope, a non-profit organization, Interim Director Jane Bessolo estimated the staff has seen their number of walk-in clients nearly double over the past three weeks.

“We’ve definitely seen a surge in the number of people coming in for help,” Bessolo said. “A few weeks ago, we might see 60 to 80 people a day. But now, well, 120 people signed in yesterday. Some of the amounts we’re paying to utility companies weekly have doubled as well.”

And with those clients, Bessolo said, Center of Hope is seeing its resources taxed much more than usual.

“We allot a certain amount each day that we can dispense, but we haven’t always paid out that much and it gave us a little bit of a buffer,” she said. “We’re using all our allotted funds now. These times are very taxing.”

The same trend was reported by Manna Storehouse, another local non-profit organization.

“We’re getting more and more requests for utility assistance, and the bills are obviously higher,” Assistant Director Katherine Smith said. “We’re still helping everyone, but the problem is that the amount we can offer people just doesn’t help as much as it did before the bills were so high.”

As the requests for utility assistance increase, so does the need for donations to such organizations, Smith said.

“Our donors are still giving, and we absolutely need it,” she said. “We’re getting donations from people to be used specifically for helping people with utility bills, and that helps some.”

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