Podcast: Community Action Sees Sharp Increase in Fuel Assistance Requests; Here’s Where to Find Help

Kerri Sheeran Perry, chief executive officer of Community Action. (Courtesy photograph.)

Although winter doesn’t officially begin until the 21st, heating bills are already arriving and families are asking for help.

Kerri Sheeran Perry, president and CEO of Haverhill’s Community Action, told WHAV listeners recently that as of the last week of November, heating assistance applications are up 148% over last year.

“What’s remarkable about that is it’s been a fairly warm fall. So, it’s really, really important that community members learn about our program at Community Action, that they reach out to us. I think a lot of community members are confused about the process, but if they call into Community Action offices at 978-373-1971, we have an incredibly efficient and helpful staff, many of whom are bilingual. You can learn a lot by going to our website at www.communityactioninc.org,” she said.

Sheeran Perry says because of the number of people calling Community Action, it’s important that a message, with a call-back number, is left for an intake worker, many of whom are bilingual, to return the call. She spent time to stress the importance of connecting with a person.

“Many times a community member who comes in seeking assistance is actually helped with a number of programs. If they have young children, they can connect to our WIC program or our Head Start or Early Head Start. We have a robust family daycare system here in Haverhill with over 35 family daycare homes. We have adult education programs and really amazing workforce development programs at MakeIt Haverhill. So, somebody coming in for heating assistance, I think, will be surprised at the amount of programs that we can offer, that will really stabilize family care in the region,” she said.

Sheeran Perry says food security is also an important part of the agency’s services. Nutritional assistance are provided by its early childhood programs and, in a collaborative effort, several weeks ago, the Unitarian Universalist Church, United Way, Sacred Hearts Food Pantry and Emmaus. The effort made it possible to distribute more than 900 Thanksgiving baskets.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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