News

Cold Snap Coincides with Start of Crisis Fuel Season

CRISIS FUEL ASSISTANCE NOW AVAILABLE

When temperatures plummeted below freezing last week, it was a wake-up call for many of us, and we rushed through the routines of filling our furnaces, changing our filters, and putting on our storm windows. But for many area households, winter is a time of year filled with dread as they face the prospect of stretching their limited income to heat their homes. The good news is that thanks to SEVCA’s Crisis Fuel Program, households that find themselves facing a home heating crisis this winter have somewhere to turn.

“SEVCA can help many qualified households experiencing a fuel emergency,” said Pat Burke, Director of SEVCA’s Family Services Program. “But funding cuts and rule changes mean that households may be eligible for assistance only once all winter. Last year, the state had to find extra money for a “Special Warmth Fund” because there were simply too many people at risk of being without heat. Even with this extra funding, and even though the need was as high as ever, the number of assists SEVCA was able to provide dropped 22% from the previous year.”

To be eligible for Crisis Fuel assistance, households must have incomes below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is based on household size; e.g., $3,976/month (gross) for a family of 4.  There are also other requirements before a household can qualify for help.  One of these, introduced by the state last year, is that families must first apply to the state for Seasonal Fuel assistance before they can be considered for Crisis Fuel (whether or not they are eligible to receive Seasonal Fuel Assistance). That’s why SEVCA urges everyone who might have difficulty meeting their home heating needs this winter to apply for Seasonal Fuel Assistance as soon as possible.

Burke suggests that households check their fuel level regularly to avoid a situation where even Crisis Fuel can’t help them. “Don’t wait until you run out of fuel,” she cautions. “We try to see people as soon as possible, but it could take a few days, and we don’t want people to be in stuck with no heat at all.” The program also can’t pay for an off-route delivery charge, which can be very expensive.

Crisis Fuel Assistance is available from Nov. 24 to approximately mid-March. To apply, schedule an appointment by calling the nearest SEVCA Outreach Office between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. To find the phone number and location of the nearest SEVCA office, call (800) 464-9951 or visit SEVCA’s website – www.sevca.org.  Applicants must bring paystubs or other proof of income, know how much fuel is left in their tank (if oil heat), and provide information about their fuel dealer. SEVCA may also be able to assist households whose furnaces stop working or are unsafe, with an emergency furnace repair or replacement. To apply for Seasonal Fuel, apply online at www.mybenefits.vt.gov or call (800) 479-6151. This is also the number to call for Crisis Fuel Assistance on weekends and holidays, and for furnace repair or replacement assistance on weekends, holidays, or for after-hours emergencies.

Donations Needed for SEVCA's "Care for Kids & Families" Collection Drive

Donate Personal Care Products at SEVCA's "Good Buy" Stores to Receive Discount

SEVCA's "Good Buy" Thrift Stores are now offering customers the opportunity to give to local kids and families in need and get something back at the same time. Now through December 20, everyone who donates personal care items to SEVCA's "Care for Kids & Families" Collection Drive will receive 10% off any purchase at our Good Buy Stores. Diapers, baby formula, shampoo, and toothpaste are some of the items urgently needed by local homeless shelters and food shelves to distribute to families in need.

"The Good Buy Stores already provide a service to our communities by offering low-cost clothing, furniture, and household goods, but we wanted to do something extra around the holidays," said Tonia White, Director of SEVCA's network of stores. "A lot of people think about donating food at this time, but it turns out that one of the biggest unmet needs in our area is actually for baby care and personal care products."

The organizations that will distribute the items collected are the Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction, Our Place Drop-in Center in Bellows Falls, and the Springfield Family Center. They offer groceries, meals, and shelter to hundreds of families in crisis every month, but often come up short when it comes to providing the personal care essentials most people take for granted.

"Once people pay their rent and utilities, they don't even have enough to meet their food needs, so they come to us. They certainly don't have enough money to pay for things like infant formula and diapers, which are extremely expensive," said Lisa Pitcher, Executive Director of Our Place. "And those who are eligible for 3SquaresVT can't use their benefits for anything but food."

Stephanie Thompson, Executive Director of the Springfield Family Center, said she can't keep up with requests for personal care items. "These are not luxuries, they are essential to everyone's health and well-being," she said. "When we have these items in stock, they just go so fast." She pointed out that babies and toddlers in day care are required to have diapers and wipes, which puts an incredible strain on the budgets of families with lower incomes.

Items needed for the Care for Kids & Families Collection Drive include disposable diapers (especially sizes 3, 4, & 5), baby wipes, infant formula, baby lotion and powder, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, feminine products, tissues (Kleenex) and toilet paper. "Good Buy" Store locations in Springfield, White River Junction, and Bellows Falls are all accepting donations. Customers may shop when they drop off their contribution or use their 10% discount during a future visit. The location, hours, and contact information for the stores can be found at http://www.sevca.org/thrift-stores/locations or by calling SEVCA at (800) 464-9951.

 

Volunteer Tax Preparers Needed--Training Provided

Learn how YOU can make a difference in your community!

We're looking for individuals interested in serving as Volunteer Tax Preparers for the 2015 tax season. You don't need tax preparation experience - training is provided. Volunteer preparers and greeters help low- to moderate-income taxpayers with free tax preparation at four sites in Windham and Windsor counties. You can help your neighbors receive the tax credits they are eligible for and meet the filing requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Orientation meetings:

Monday, Nov. 10 3:00 p.m.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
749 Hart ford Ave.
White River Junction, VT

OR
Wednesday, Nov. 12 4:00 p.m.
SEVCA office
91 Buck Drive
Westminster, VT

For more information: (800) 464-9951 x 199 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Weatherization Day Oct. 30, 2014

CELEBRATE WEATHERIZATION DAY WITH SEVCA on OCTOBER 30

Each year, October 30 is recognized as Weatherization Day -- a day meant to bring attention to the fact that low income households spend a disproportionate percentage of their annual incomes on home energy bills. SEVCA will join with Weatherization Assistance Providers across the state who are organizing events to publicize the huge impact of our Low Income Weatherization Assistance Programs.

DID YOU KNOW?
Weatherization programs not only save energy through advanced technologies to improve the energy affordability for low-income families, but also save lives and improve the health and safety of families by identifying carbon monoxide hazards, poor indoor air quality, mold, and other health threats. With support from both the state of Vermont and the US Department of Energy, more than 22,000 low-income family homes have been weatherized in Vermont since 1996.

• For every $1 invested, weatherization returns $2.51 to the household and society
• $437 or more in annual utility bill savings year after year at current energy prices
• Energy savings average 35% of consumption for the typical low-income home pre-weatherization consumption
• Weatherization decreases national energy consumption by the equivalent of 24.1 million barrels of oil annually

TOUR A WEATHERIZED HOME

SEVCA will offer onsite tours of two recently weatherized homes. One will be in the southern part of our service area (Brattleboro) and the other will be in the northern service area, in Perkinsville, a hamlet in the Town of Weathersfield. There will be an Energy Auditor on hand to showcase our work. For more information, contact:

Harald Schmidtke, Director of Weatherization Programs
(802) 722-4575x130/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Becky Himlin, Director of Planning and Development
(802) 722-4575x163 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Ready for Work" class to start soon! Oct. 7 first day of classes

New Program Helps Job Seekers Get "Ready for Work," Advance in Their Careers

A new program offered by the Community College of Vermont (CCV), Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), and the Windham Workforce Investment Board (WWIB) will help unemployed individuals and those with little work experience gain marketable skills, obtain jobs and advance in their careers.

The free, 8-week course, known as "Ready for Work," begins Oct. 7 and will be held at CCV's new Brattleboro academic center. Enrollment for the program is now open. The course will focus on the core skills most requested by Vermont businesses, and upon completing it, participants will be eligible to receive the Governor's Career Ready Certificate and the National Career Readiness Certificate – both of which are recognized by many Vermont employers as indicators of proficiency and workforce readiness.

Throughout the course and afterward, participants will receive intensive, one-on-one support from SEVCA to help them solidify skills such as resume writing and interviewing, overcome employment barriers, search for and apply to jobs, and transition successfully into the workforce.

"Ready for Work" was developed by the WWIB, in partnership with SEVCA and CCV, with a Regional Workforce Partnership Grant from the Vermont Department of Labor, to address the mutual workforce needs of both employers and disadvantaged workers in the state of Vermont. The CCV Career Readiness portion of the program is made possible with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Interested applicants should fill out an application by going to http://apply.ccv.edu/career/. For more information, click here or contact Shanti McKenna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 802-786-3825. Denise Mason, Director of Economic Development at SEVCA, is also available to answer questions at 802-722-4575 ext. 150.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1937