We seem to have experienced some weather recently. Winter is at the coast - complete with sideways rain and waiting for slides to be cleared from the roads. We call it the winter commute. Cold nights and frosty mornings. Must be winter, alright.

Let's check in on Dad and see how he's doing in all this. After all, his place isn't exactly an airtight, brand-new place. In fact, it was built some years back. He has managed over the years to have a furnace installed and some other electric heat - why he even had an indoor toilet put in - OK, that was done a while before Dad arrived on the scene, but you get the picture.

At coffee one morning some years back, the guys were talking about winter, the cold, medical costs, food, etc. - you know, coffee talk. Dad was having a hard time meeting his bills, times were tough (not for the first nor the last time in his life) and winter was here. He couldn't afford fuel and electricity and if he compensated for the lack of furnace heat with electric heaters ... well, let's just say sparks flew from the meter it was spinning so fast. Then as his power bill went up, his ability to still pay for food, meds, water, garbage, and everything else went down.

Dad being Dad, decided to do something - anything - about the whole mess. He began talking to folks and looking into energy assistance, and soon found out that in his (our) community, there was indeed help available.

Let me interject something: Dad, being Dad (again) figured that a few extra blankets at night and long-johns and sweaters during the day was something he could do without help from anybody. It didn't last, but Dad wouldn't be Dad if he didn't try things on his own before asking for help.

So - energy assistance. Through a series of conversations, Dad was given the number for the Coastal Community Action Program. He took a breath, gave them a call, expecting to be just given some more information. Instead, he talked to a real live person, who scheduled him for an interview. He met the eligibility criteria, resulting in real assistance with his heating costs.

This year, Dad's ready when the coffee-talk turns to winter, cold and rising costs. He'll be able to share first-hand experience about what help is available and how it works. If no one in the group needs the help, you can bet they know someone who does. What will Dad tell them?

Contact 800-828-4883 and ask for energy assistance. Beginning Nov. 28, they will begin to schedule interviews with folks who need help with energy costs such as fuel, electricity, wood, etc. And Seth, who lives down the road and off the side road in his travel trailer and who has had trouble with making his furnace work, could also be helped out. There are usually some funds available for minor or small furnace repairs, also.

It's worth looking into and the folks at CCAP are personable and easy to work with. Follow Dad's lead and give them a call. As Dad might say, "Been there, done that, and don't need the long-johns so often anymore!"

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