October 2009
H.E.A.T Helps with Financial Burden for Georgia Couple

After moving from Jacksonville, Florida eight years ago, Nelson and Patricia Dixon relocated to Georgia and landed what seemed to be promising employment.

Patricia, 61, began work as a customer service representative for American Express and Nelson, 63, accepted a position at Northside Hospital working as a supervisor in the Environmental Services Department.

Unexpectedly, in July of 2007 Patricia was laid off from her job at American Express. Another huge blow came for the couple when Nelson was laid off from his position at Northside in December of 2008 without enough years of service to attain a retirement package. The family remained strong through the employment struggles, but it became too much to endure when health issues complicated the matter further.

Nelson became the recipient of a liver transplant with no health insurance and a very limited income. After the surgery, he required expensive medication that was required to keep his body from rejecting the newly transplanted organ. The monthly expenses, including a house note, utilities, medical bills and prescriptions, became too much for the couple to manage. "The money just wasn't there," explained the Dixons.

Decisions had to be made whether the household bills or the medical bills would take precedence in their monthly budget.

The Dixons are not alone in their financial delegations. "Georgia's low-income families live on extremely tight budgets; they often are forced to choose between buying food or medicine or heating their homes," explained H.E.A.T. Board Chairman Chris Strippelhoff.

After learning about H.E.A.T. (Heating Energy Assistance Team) from their gas company, Nelson and Patricia applied and received emergency funding from the organization. "We are very thankful for the assistance that we received. It came at a time when we really needed it," they explained. "We will never forget it."

Originally established by Atlanta Gas Light Company in 1983, H.E.A.T. is the oldest statewide fuel fund program in Georgia. During the past 25 years, nearly $17 million in energy assistance has been donated and disbursed to more than 82,000 families. Last year, donations from Walton EMC Natural Gas customers assisted H.E.A.T in helping families with their energy needs. Donations made to H.E.A.T. are tax deductible.

For more information or to donate to H.E.A.T., visit their website or call 678/406-0212 or use the form below.

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