JONESVILLE — As the temperatures during the day are expected to be warmer the next week or so, overnight temperatures still are forecast for the 30s and below most nights in the coming 10 days, which might mean some area residents will be seeking ways to heat their homes and stay warm.
Tri-County Christian Crisis Ministry in Jonesville offers assistance for those who are in crisis and may need help with funding or through providing supplies to stay warm.
“Since it has just gotten cold in the last few weeks, we haven’t really had that much of a request for assistance until now,” said Heather Macy, executive director of Tri-C.
This heating assistance for residents in the Tri-County region comes in a number of forms through the ministry, she explained.
“G&B Energy will take our vouchers, and they donate to our general fund through the Boles-Eidson Foundation,” Macy said. “They really help us be able to provide that assistance.”
Other assistance comes through blankets which are provided as needed, one for each bed in a household. She said several years ago a company operating out of the former Chatham building in Elkin called and offered a large number of new sample blankets. So many blankets were given, Tri-C still is dispersing those as families need them.
“We have small single room electric heaters for those who don’t have heat with electricity or who have expensive baseboard heat,” Macy said.
Through G&B Energy, Macy said Tri-C is able to help provide kerosene, propane and fuel oil for those who need it, and 67 Hardware accepts Tri-C vouchers for kerosene as well.
“We have funds specifically designated for heating,” said Macy. “The client has to purchase 100 gallons, and we pay the first $150 and the client pays the rest.”
She said other area agencies which provide heating assistance include the Salvation Army and the Department of Social Services.
“We do help with electric assistance,” she said of those who may be suffering due to lack of funding for electric bills. “Duke Energy has a program called Share the Warmth where customers can designate donations to this program, and all that money goes to us and places like us so we’ll be able to help others.”
Tri-C can assist customers of Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership and EnergyUnited as well.
“We get donations of Share the Warmth funds, and every quarter Surry-Yadkin Electric selects different groups to receive funds and a couple of times a year we are selected for that. It is not necessarily for heating assistance, but whatever we need it for,” Macy said.
During the colder months, she said requests for food assistance also increase because gardens are not producing as many items, and people need resources like Tri-C’s food pantry to supplement their diet.
While she couldn’t pinpoint a cause, Macy said the numbers of new clients at Tri-C have been on the increase, and she reported seeing an increase in clients who had received Tri-C’s services five or 10 years ago but hadn’t been to the ministry since then, until now.
And with funding focused on heating assistance at present, Macy said there is always a need for donations of staple items such as jelly, cooking oil or shortening, crackers (especially since it’s soup and cracker time, she said), fruit other than cranberry sauce, juice, canned meats, any toiletry items like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, powder detergent, which can be separated for multiple clients easier than liquid detergent.
Clients are aided based on an income-versus-expenses comparison, she explained. “We are a crisis ministry and we try to work with those in true crisis.”
One trend among clients the ministry has been seeing more are those who are multigenerations living under one roof, meaning more people in a household. She said another issue the staff has seen are people who have filed for disability, but are not yet receiving because it’s taking so long to be qualified.
“A lot of folks say they can’t find jobs and transportation, public transportation, is horrible around here,” said Macy, noting she’s been trying to find a way to have YVEDDI make Tri-C and even the Jonesville Public Library, where people can use the public computers to search for jobs online, one of the stops for its service.
Another need at Tri-C are volunteers primarily to work in the office during client in-take hours, Macy said. Computer skills aren’t necessarily needed, but she said volunteers shouldn’t be afraid of the computer since there is a simple computer program they will use to enter a client’s information and then print it out for filing purposes.
Other donations to Tri-C come through food drives by area schools in the Lowes Foods’ Friends Feeding Friends program, multiple drives by the Veterans of Foreign Wars local posts, the Boy Scouts’ Scouting for Food drive and the food drive the Saturday before Mother’s Day each year by the Postal Service. Also, the Girl Scouts make birthday bags complete with cake mix, frosting and a small gift item, and funding is received through the Yadkin Valley United Fund.
From Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2014, the most recent statistics available, Macy said Tri-C helped clients by providing 39 electric heaters and assisting 644 households with power.
Tri-C is open Mondays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon, and the ministry sees the first 20 clients on a first-come, first-served basis. Clients may be residents of Yadkin, Surry or Wilkes counties.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.