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Assistance needed for seniors

Johnson County Heating For Seniors Fund seeks donations.

By Jinifer Rae
Freelance Writer

With winter, fast approaching, many in Johnson County are making preparations to stay warm this season. For some of Johnson County’s seniors, keeping the cold out can be a real financial challenge. The Johnson County’s Emergency Heating Assistance for Seniors Fund program has been invaluable for the last ten years, helping eligible low-income seniors keep warm.With a small beginning created to help some of Johnson County’s seniors, the program has grown into a 501(c) 3 organization.Since 2008, the corporation collected more than $175,000 towards heating costs, which helped provide kerosene, propane, wood, coal, or assistance with electric bills.

“We are one hundred percent nonprofit,” said Gwen Bell, President of the Johnson County Emergency Heating Assistance for Seniors Fund. “Every cent donated has been used as fuel for our seniors. Every year it costs approximately $20,000 to supply heat to eligible seniors. With winter fast approaching we are again in need of support and funds.”

Eligible applicants are screened through the Tennessee Department of Health. Qualified individuals must be at least 65 years old, or 60 years of age with a disability. Last year, more than 67 seniors were assisted.

“We had to extend our program into May, because asyou recall it was the winter that wouldn’t end,” Bell said adding that resources were stretched, but the organization managed to help every eligible senior. “Of course, we are in serious need of donations for this coming winter season.”

Providing fuel has become a community effort; many individuals, churches, businesses, and the neighborhood services center all work together helping the cause.

“We are thankful that Tri-State gives us a discount for kerosene and Marsh and Freeman gives a discount for propane,” Bell added. “We have a good provider for wood that delivers a dump truck load for a great price, and I want to thank every business, church, and person who has helped us raise funds, so that we can help these elderly folks in Johnson County. “Also I want to thank the United Way for the grants they have given.”

Bell emphasized the need to thank those who have worked the front-line to administer and maintain the heating fund from its early beginnings through today.

“Bill Brookshire who gave me the idea, and has donated more than $10,000 to this cause while Nancy Wills serves as treasurer, and last but not least Laura Holloway from the Tennessee Department of Human Services, who has handled our casework for more than seven years.”

According to Bell, any donation, no matter how small helps, and makes a difference.

“If you know of a low income senior who needs help, please notify us, we will work with them to get the help they need,” she said.

Donations can be mailed to Johnson County Emergency Heating Assistance for Seniors Fund. P.O. Box 208, Mountain City, Tennessee 37683.