In 2022, inflation and high fuel costs combine to pose another challenging winter. Households are aware their dollars don’t cover as much. Just as worrying, the nonprofit programs that help people access basic needs – like food shelves and pantries – are finding donations are down, and their buying power is eroded.
“From a service delivery standpoint, our first principles are safety and reliability,” said General Manager Louis Porter. “But we’re a cooperative, so those principles apply beyond just electricity. We aim to be reliably helpful for our members. Our Member Services Representatives are here to help members with payment plans. We work with local community action agencies to make sure income-based resources are accessible and effective.”
Addressing members’ immediate needs is important, he said, even while WEC keeps focused on protecting its members’ interests through good internal policies and advocacy at the state level. “Concern for community means both today and tomorrow,” he said. “The health of our community is directly linked to the health of our not-for-profit cooperative. So whatever we can do to facilitate relief and stability among our membership, we will do.”
On a daily basis, WEC staff are committed to supporting members as well as possible, whether that’s helping members with past-due accounts create budgets that keep the lights on, or partnering with community organizations and agencies to ensure accessibility and equity are top of mind when designing support and resource programs.
There are also WEC programs that provide direct support:
Veterans, Inc. is a national nonprofit with a mission to end homelessness among military veterans. Through their Bradford, VT office, WEC sponsors Christmas for one veteran family in WEC’s service area. This program is not supported through the Community Fund, but is a beloved tradition in the WEC office. Staff, Board, vendors, and consultants contribute to cover the costs of a complete celebration, including food and gifts. “This year, we were able to get everything on the specific family’s wish list and more,” said Administrative Assistant Rosie Casciero. In addition, WEC’s team sponsored grocery gift cards for holiday meals for six additional veteran families.
To learn more: veteransinc.org
WARMTH is Vermont’s emergency home heating assistance program. It’s funded mainly through voluntary contributions from electric utility customers, and operated through local community action agencies. In WEC territory, that’s Capstone and Northeast Kingdom Community Action, or NEKCA.
To donate, initial the Operation Round-Up box on your electric bill to round up each bill to the next dollar and send the change to WARMTH. If you’d like to contribute more each month, write in the amount. If you bill through SmartHub or would prefer to call, contact Member Services to arrange your donation: 802-223-5245 or 1-800-932-5245.
WEC’s Community Fund
Co-op members have the option to donate their capital credit refunds. This money is pooled and distributed to worthy causes in WEC’s service area. Every year, the fund grants tens of thousands of dollars to small local nonprofits.
To donate your capital credits to the Community Fund, call Rosie Casciero at 802-224-2322.
How you can help
The Co-op’s list of Community Fund grantees is a good resource for local charitable giving. Each organization on this list makes a difference right here in central Vermont. The full list of 2021 recipients is in the July 2022 issue of Co-op Currents.
If you need help
Call 211 to find any emergency resource you need: food, mental health, fuel, shelter, and anything else.
If you need help paying your WEC bill, call Member Services: 802-223-5245 or 1-800-932-5245
If you are in danger of running out of fuel, call the toll-free Emergency Fuel Assistance number: 1-800-479-6151