March 15, 2002 marks the end of the Energy Assistance Program's six months moratorium, which means that utility companies can disconnect service to those who have been unable to pay their bills. Last year, as we all remember, was a time of unusually high heating costs. More citizens than usual couldn't make ends meet as a result. Community resources from benevolent organizations were strained, and community leaders faced a true crisis.
Because of the emergency situations, I formed the Community Partnership Summit, which brought together the major social service organizations that provide utility assistance. Through this meeting, agencies shared their program information and discussed the availability (or lack) of funds. This meeting gave us a chance to develop a plan to meet the needs of our community by streamlining the distribution of aid and by reducing the duplication of services.
I'm pleased to announce that we will be having a second annual Community Partnership Summit in March. Although it has been a milder winter, and heating costs were not dangerously high, many citizens have not been able to keep current on their bills and face disconnected service.
This year, as we discuss how we will handle referrals and resources, we are inviting several leaders of the faith-based community. We want to improve our outreach and collaborative efforts. We already work very closely with several Wayne Township churches, but there are many more that we want to include.
The League for the Blind and Disabled has generously donated the use of their building. I would like to thank both Dave Nelson and John Guingrich for their continued support and outstanding dedication to the community.