July 30th, 2021
Community-based agencies provide an opportunity for Dollar Energy Fund to expand our service territory and help our most vulnerable customers in need. In addition to helping customers apply for utility assistance programs, our partnering agencies often go above and beyond to connect individuals with resources that provide assistance for food, clothing, health services, childcare and more.
This month, Dollar Energy Fund is proud to highlight the efforts of Catherine Thompson at St. Vincent de Paul: St. Patrick’s Catholic Church of Elkhorn, Nebraska.
How are you involved with Dollar Energy Fund application intake?
I am a volunteer in the St. Vincent de Paul Society with St. Patrick Catholic Church in Elkhorn, Nebraska. I have been doing Dollar Energy Fund applications since September 2020. As a Vincentian, the foundation of what we do is to go to people’s homes and assist with anything that they need.
How often do you go to people’s homes to assist with utility applications and other essentials?
Typically, I have not been going to people’s homes for Dollar Energy Fund requests. 99% of people are able to send their documents to me over their phone. It is quicker that way, and with my schedule, I can get their applications in quicker than trying to go to their homes to get pictures of the documents. However, I am used to going to people’s homes to meet with them, and help them get what they need as far as food, rent, help with bills, gas cards, etc.
What is a recent case that compelled you to go above and beyond for a customer in need?
Metropolitan Utilities District (M.U.D.) contacted me to see if I could assist an elderly woman with a Dollar Energy Fund application for her utility bills. She had a shut-off notice from M.U.D. This customer does not have a computer and didn’t know how to take pictures with her phone to submit the required documents. Her husband recently had a stroke and is in a nursing home. She expressed that she is lost without him and is now realizing the bills are all overdue. I could hear a lot of stress and anxiety in her voice.
In SVdP, we always go with another volunteer if we need to enter a home, but I did not know of anyone who was available. I felt a sense of urgency because of her pending shut off and was more concerned about getting her application submitted.
On that Saturday, I asked her if I could just come to her house and stand on the outside door step and take pictures of her documents. She agreed, so I drove directly there. She could only find her driver’s license, a bank statement from January 2021, and the M.U.D. shut off notice. She found a bill from Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) from last fall so I was able to get the account number. We did not have access to her husband’s driver’s license or his social security number. I was concerned because the bills were in both of their names, and I did not want the utility companies to deny the applications. Nonetheless, I submitted the documents for her.
What was the outcome?
M.U.D. granted her the full $500 and OPPD granted what she needed for her bill to become current. I spoke to her that Monday and she was so grateful, and so was I.
Tell us about other customers that you have helped?
In May, myself and another SVdP volunteer went to another elderly gentleman’s home to get pictures of his documents. We also took gas and grocery gift cards to him. Another elderly woman in the area did not want us to come to her home, so she mailed me copies of her bills and other documents which worked out well. I will do what it takes to get these applications in for people in need.
As someone who works directly with these customers in need, how do you think Dollar Energy Fund has impacted their lives?
Dollar Energy Fund has been a God send for so many people in our area and I am totally committed to the process! The grants have helped a dad with five kids who is buried in medical bills due to his wife’s terminal cancer, to numerous single mothers who have trouble getting enough work to support their children, to people who have lost jobs and hours due to the pandemic. It has also given me a chance to talk to people about LIHEAP and other resources through SVdP to help with their rent and food assistance. I could go on and on. Dollar Energy Fund is a tremendous help for people who need it. I am proud to be a part of it!
Dollar Energy Fund partners with over 450 community-based organizations and more than 45 utility companies in 14 states. These individuals and organizations care deeply about the communities we serve and spend countless hours promoting their welfare and striving for their benefit.
“Catherine’s willingness to go above and beyond to help others shows how great our agency partners are and what an impact they make in our community,” said Stephanie Mueller, vice president of corporate communications and customer success for Metropolitan Utilities District. “We appreciate her amazing heart along with our customer-owners that donate to the Home Fund, providing utility assistance to those who need it most.”
Visit www.mudomaha.com/homefund to learn more about the Home Fund and make a donation to help customers in need.
If you are in need of assistance with utility bills or other resources, visit our Agency Finder to find an organization in your area.
Do you know someone at your agency who goes above and beyond to assist clients with Dollar Energy Fund applications and other services? We want to recognize them! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your contribution directly supports an individual or family facing a utility crisis.
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