Community Action Partnership of Strafford County’s staff knew demand for fuel assistance was going to be high during the 2022-23 winter season, but we were shocked by what happened on the very first day applications were open.
By the end of that first day on November 1, 2022, we had already received more applications than we did all last winter.
“We saw a huge increase in need,” said CAPSC Fuel and Electric Assistance Manager Lisa Garcia. “People that we haven’t seen in years came back to us and applied, and people that had never applied before were coming to us for help.”
Ray, a Strafford County resident in his 70s, was one of the people who received fuel assistance. Ray was first referred to us in 2021 by Cardinal and Glidden Oil, a key CAPSC partner, because he was staring down some tough choices.
As a widower who has diabetes and is living on a fixed income, Ray wasn’t sure how he’d be able to pay for his electricity or heat while also paying for hospital bills and essentials like food. Ray said fuel assistance from CAPSC was a “big help” at the start of a hard winter.
“That was a godsend. I really had nothing else coming in,” said Ray, who is above the income limits for assistance from his local welfare office. “Sometimes you just have no control over what happens. You’re praying and hoping for the best.”
Ray worked for a government agency for 21 years, during which he said his job involved helping people facing financial challenges.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be like this,” he said. “I never thought it would hit me. It’s very hard when you have one income, you have to keep the house up, (and) you have to pay all your taxes and for repairs and things.”
CAPSC worked hard to meet the fuel and electric needs of Ray and other Strafford County residents during the 2022-23 winter season. Our staff worked closely with area welfare offices and other partners to find eligible residents. They expanded their open office hours so more community members could stop in without an appointment to get help. They also increased their efforts to make the region more aware of the types of assistance available and increased the donations used to financially support the program.
“Our fuel and electric staff really stepped up to take care of the community,” said CAPSC Director of Administrative Services Jamie Swan.