Turning up the heat: ‘Share the Warmth’ makes donation to Rowan Helping Ministries
By Mark Wineka
SALISBURY — For three weeks this winter, James Morrison, his wife and three children had to live with another family because the power had been cut off to their mobile home.
Thanks to crisis financial assistance from both Rowan Helping Ministries and the Salvation Army, the Morrison family managed to pay off its past-due electric bill, fund a new deposit and have the electricity turned back on.
“It was very important,” Morrison said Tuesday. “… Money is really hard to come by right now.”
Elsewhere, Sharon (not her real name) suffered an injury on her job and had to miss work, and she remains under a doctor’s care. But her application for workres’ compensation was denied, and Sharon, who lives in a house by herself, faced no income and a disconnection notice from the power company.
Sharon considered moving in with her parents, both of whom are scraping by on Social Security, but Rowan Helping Ministries helped pay her power bill and keep her house warm this winter.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” Sharon said of the help she received.
Rowan Helping Ministries’ Crisis Assistance Network aided both Sharon and the Morrison family thanks in part to donations it receives every year from Duke Energy’s Share the Warmth program.
Lisa Parrish, community relations manager with Duke, visited Rowan Helping Ministries Tuesday afternoon to present one of those over-sized checks — this one was for $16,590 — representing the company’s contribution for heating assistance during the winter.
Since 1985, Share the Warmth has contributed $34 million in heating assistance to people in need over its service area in North and South Carolina. Rowan Helping Ministries is one of 80 agencies receiving the Share the Warmth distributions, Parrish said.
The $16,590 donation Tuesday represents two of three payments Share the Warmth will be contributing in Rowan County. Overall, Duke Energy will give around $24,000 to RHM this winter.
Distribution amounts are based on unemployment figures and the number of Duke customers in each area.
Share the Warmth funds come from Duke Energy customers, employees and the Duke Energy Foundation. In their November bills, customers receive inserts and self-addressed, postage-paid envelopes about the program and requests for donations.
The Duke Energy Foundation matches dollar-for-dollar as much as $500,000 in customer contributions made to Share the Warmth.
Rowan Helping Ministries’ Crisis Assistance Network will provide close to $900,000 this year to assist people facing heating needs, utility disconnection notices, eviction notices, medication needs, dental extractions and deposits for utilities.
The Crisis Assistance Network, located in the Ralph W. Ketner Center (RHM’s original building) at 226 N. Long St., also helps with food and clothing needs.
“A lot of people think we’re just a shelter,”said Sherry Smith, director of client services.
The overnight shelter and Jeannie’s Kitchen are located in RHM’s newer facility across the street.
Kyna Grubb, executive director of RHM, said her agency learned last year of someone who had gone without heat for six consecutive winters — until he read a story in the newspaper about heating assistance available at RHM.
“We think people know about us, and we’re here to help,” Grubb said, but that case reinforced to the staff how important it is to keep spreading the word and publicize the days when they do things such as accept an over-sized check.
Much of the funding for the Crisis Assistance Network comes through RHM’s role in administering the Department of Social Services’ Crisis Intervention Program. The CIP can have pretty rigid requirements for qualifying people in certain cases, and Share the Warmth funds sometimes fill the void.
While she was at the Ketner building Tuesday, Parrish made a quick tour of the facility with Grubb.
Meanwhile, thanks to programs such as Share the Warmth, Sharon is just that this winter — warm.
“I thank God,” Sharon said Tuesday. “I’m a truster and a believer. … Maybe I can volunteer (at RHM) to give back.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.
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