Now that Old Man Winter has pitched up for the season, Heat Bank Haliburton County is increasing the values of grants it is giving out to area residents to ensure they can keep their homes heated over the holidays and into the new year.
Coming into effect Dec. 1, the move will ensure families won’t have to choose between keeping their house warm or putting food on the table.
“We are incredibly concerned about families in our community being able to meet basic needs, such as heat and hydro,” said Tina Jackson, executive director for Central Food Network (CFN). As well as Heat Bank Haliburton County, CFN also boasts the Highlands East Food Hub, Cardiff Community Food Bank and the Highlands East Community Cooks under its non-profit umbrella.
“We hear stories all of the time from folks who are making heartbreaking decisions about whether to heat or eat, and in some cases even skipping medication as they just can’t afford it once they’ve covered their food bill,” Jackson continued.
Heat Bank Haliburton County offers grants, information, referrals and other practical supports to lower-income households across Haliburton County that are struggling to make their heat or hydro payments. As an authorized intake agency for both the Ontario Electricity Support Program and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, the local heat bank offers a comprehensive intake assessment to link people with the programs and services they need to get through a challenging time.
Like most charitable organizations, CFN is almost exclusively funded by community donations. Jackson says the heat bank is only able to up the value of its grants after receiving some “generous donations” in recent months. Earlier this year, the heat bank was selected as the winner at the fall meeting off 100 Women Who Care – a group of local advocates who regularly provide money to a wide range of charities and causes. That win netted the organization $6,400.
In November, Carnavon’s Rhubarb Restaurant held its annual Christmas fundraiser, with most of the funds going directly to the heat bank. Launched back in 2014, the event has raised over $75,000 to date.
“The heat bank not only provides heat to those who need it most, but also social support and assistance with helping to end the cycle and feel empowered,” said Terri Matthews-Carl, owner of Rhubarb Restaurant. “We are so grateful to help play a role in this very worthwhile project.”
Each year, the heat bank assists approximately 120 homes with supports such as firewood donations, grants for furnace fuel, free energy conservation products and help in identifying and applying for other programs and credit to reduce utility expenses. The program is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. To inquire about services, call 705-306-0565, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Central Food Network, visit www.centralfoodnetwork.org.
Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo