H.E.A.T Program Funded by Warm Hearts
Norma Clark, 61, of Waycross, has always worked hard and savored her independence. Beginning in her teens, she pursued a variety of career paths and always looked forward to a new profession with the opportunity to learn different skills. No matter the occupation, Clark suffered silently in pain.
Eventually the pain became too much. Severe carpal tunnel syndrome left her unable to do even the simplest of tasks, like bathing. Arthritis and vision concerns were added complications.
Reluctantly, Clark took the advice of a friend and applied for disability benefits. She was fortunate to receive benefits almost immediately. Disability benefits helped, but some hurdles remained. She had no medical insurance (a 24-month wait for Medicare) and a very small income. Regardless, Clark did not complain.
Accustomed to a frugal life, she was determined to make ends meet. Despite being energy conscious and wearing extra clothes during colder months, energy bills were more than she could afford. A limited income impacted her payment options significantly.
Clark learned about the H.E.A.T. program from a previous recipient. With no other options, she decided to apply, but assumed that she would not be eligible. To her surprise, she was.
"I felt so blessed to know that there are programs and people who are willing to give help to those like myself who are placed in situations that they never thought would happen to them," said Clark. "I am honored to have a chance to say thank you."
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 27 years, nearly $19 million in energy assistance has been donated and disbursed to more than 87,000 families. Last year, donations from Walton EMC Natural Gas customers assisted H.E.A.T. in providing more than $662,000 in energy assistance funding, which served nearly 2,000 households. Donations made to H.E.A.T. are tax deductible.