The Department of Health (DOH) recently collaborated with Heat Up St. Louis and other community partners to provide utility assistance to metro area elderly and disabled residents within the City. The result was the 2013 Winterizing Utility Forum on October 4th at the New North Side Family Life Center.
While the main endeavor was to get people signed up for utility assistance, there were a number of other activities to meet their needs while they waited. Director of Health Pamela Walker and Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson were on hand to provide support and advice to participants. Participating service partners also provided residents with important information related to heating their homes safely and efficient energy usage.
Response to this event was overwhelming. United Way 2-1-1 provided their services to enable people to call to make appointments for assistance. Three thousand people called vying for the 1,600 available appointment times. In the end, more than 4,000 people were helped as a result of this day’s effort, and rain checks were provided for residents who could not be helped at the time of the event.
Funding for this program was provided by the Missouri Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP’s Energy Assistance/Regular Heating program provides financial assistance to help pay heating bills for eligible Missourians during the months of October, November, December, January, February, and March. Eligibility is based on income, household size, available resources and responsibility for payment of home heating costs. For residents who could not be helped at this event, there may be additional funds available through Heat Up St. Louis and its other partner agencies.
A number of staff members from the DOH were instrumental in helping this event be as successful as it was. A special thanks goes out to Shontae Fluelen-Hays for all her efforts in coordinating the DOH’s participation. Also, thanks go out to DOH staffers Mary Hawkins, Lorise Thornton, Jalonda Auberry, Sheria Stinton, Megan Hagerty, and Shannon Coleman who assisted by greeting residents, directing them and providing rain checks for assistance when necessary. We also salute volunteers from Ameren Missouri, the St. Louis County Health Department, the People’s Community Action Agency, and other agencies for providing great customer service to all in attendance.
Winter temperatures are already here. Heating your home properly is just one aspect of preparing for winter. There are many other actions residents should take to ensure they are ready when winter officially begins. The DOH is offering another activity that will help residents get prepared. In mid-December, The DOH will host its 2nd annual Winter Readiness Event. This event will showcase a number of agencies that can assist in preparing for the worst that winter typically offers. Participants can access flu shots, winter safety tips, emergency preparedness information, and a host of other programs and services designed to help them survive winter’s worst.