Senior citizens who can't pay their unusually high fuel bills this winter are getting help from Senator Citizens Employment and Services of Alexandria.
So far the organization has given almost $400 to old people who do not qualify for public assistance but who cannot meet their heating bills, many of which are almost double last winter charges, according to Mary Ann Ormes, director.
"High heating costs will be a problem for these people for the next two months," said Ormes.
Currently Senior Citizens Employment and Services of Alexandria is appealing to individuals and community organizations for money for its fuel assistance fund."We have only a little money left," said Ormes, "and already we know of four more people who need assistance. And money for this must come from private donations, plus we're applying for funds under Title III of the Older Americans Act."
Grants are being given directly to senior citizens to cover the difference between their monthly bills last winter and this winter.
"For example," said Ormes, "we had two ladies, who live together on a joint income of $332 per month. A year ago, their January heating bill was $40. This year, it was $112.98. That's pretty typical."
Dorothy Smith, 74, also received assistance from Senior Citizens Employment and Services. Last year her oil bill was $60 in January. This year it was $111.Last week she received a check for $50 to make up the difference.
"I don't know what I would have done. I guess I would have dragged along," she said. Already I have plastic on the insides of the windows, and I keep it at 62 in the day time."
Rosalee Jenkins, 83, is hoping for assistance if more funds come to the organization. Mrs. Jenkins has an income of $203 a month and her fuel bill for January was $70. Mrs. Jenkins said she couldn't remember what the bill was for a year ago.
"But it was much lower," said she.
Senior Citizens Employment and Services of Alexandria is a private nonprofit corporation that provides free employment services for people age 60 and over. In addition, the organization provides a subsidized taxi service and free income tax advice for senior citizens. Funding comes from the city of Alexandria, fairfax County and private donations.
Word of the organization's fuel assistance fund has been spread among Alexandria's Senior Citizen clubs via the Retired Senior Citizens Volunteer Program.
"But even though the money has been made available, some are reluctant to ask for it," said Jesse Adams, director of the Munch Bunch, a senior citizens' social club that meets daily at George Washington High School in Alexandria.