Chelsea L. McGowan
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.”
Bessolo also reported donations have continued to be an encouragement.
“We haven’t seen a decrease in donations, which is wonderful,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll see a break in the need when the weather breaks in a few months. Having to use the air-conditioner in this heat is really impacting everyone.”
Smith, however, isn’t quite as optimistic about the need for utility assistance in Weatherford letting up any time soon.
“From what I hear, this doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon,” she said. “That just means we’ll work harder on our garage sales and donations so that we can keep offering people the help they need to get through this.”
Local charities needing donations more than ever
Chelsea L. McGowan
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