After a long day at work you come home to a house that is dark and cold. The dinner you serve your children is limited to whatever doesn’t need to be refrigerated or cooked. There’s no extra money for takeout, so you’re grateful for the warm lunch they get at school five days a week. And thank goodness they were able to get their homework done before it got dark. Readying the kids for bed means a speedy cold bath, many layers of warm clothing, all the blankets you can find, and a quick story off the top of your head since there is no light to read by. You gather the laundry and make plans to tote as much as you can to the Laundromat on the weekend. The kids have been great about keeping their clothes clean for as long as possible, but it’s time. Luckily, you never got rid of that old windup alarm clock, which will wake you in a few hours to start this day all over again. If you sleep at all. You think about the toll this situation is taking on your family. You never expected to find yourself unable to pay your utilities. You’ve taken a second job, but it’s just not enough. You struggle to find a way back to normal. It is dark. Your children are cold. You need help.
As temperatures drop and days become shorter, too many families in our community are struggling to stay safe and warm in their homes. For those living on low or fixed incomes, an increase in utilities during the winter months can overwhelm household budgets. Tough choices must be made. Pay the heat bill or pay the rent. Keep the lights on or put food on the table.
Hundreds of families – nearly 4,000 calls – came through our energy assistance line last week from those who are at risk of having their power shut off or who cannot afford to have service resumed. Families are in need of help to bridge the gap and they are turning to Community Action. We know that when we can lend a hand, families are able to overcome temporary challenges. We know that if we can help families with their utility bills, their financial crisis is far less likely to escalate and put them at risk of homelessness. We know that the right help at the right time makes a difference. Last year, this was true for 8,387 households in Washington County. This was true for families in your community.
Banks: 84 families
Beaverton: 3,019 families
Cornelius: 30 families
Forest Grove: 590 families
Gaston: 50 families
Hillsboro: 2,081 families
North Plains: 64 families
Sherwood: 68 families
Tigard: 923 families
Tualatin: 335 families
Remaining Washington County: 1,034 families
Fortunately, they found the support they needed at Community Action. Funding from an array of partners, including local governments, faith organizations, businesses, and generous donors made it possible for these families to come home to a warm home. A home where the things we often take for granted are now possible again. A hot meal, clean clothes, a warm shower, a light to read by… The knowledge that tomorrow you will have these things again because Community Action offered you the hope and the help you needed to get back on your feet.