As heating costs continue to rise over the winter, many residents are unaware they already qualify for some help.
The Energy Assistance Foundation’s Warm Neighbors cool friends program provides bill assistance to anyone who is in need of help with their energy bill but has too high of an income to qualify for the federal LIHEAP program.
Executive Director of the Warm Neighbors Cool Friends program, Susan Sams explains how the program works. “We like to say we help people through a temporary financial crisis in the winter which is September 1st to May 31st. We match anything the customer pays up to three hundred and fifty dollars. In the summer we match anything up to two hundred, for seniors, the disabled, and those with a medical necessity for air conditioning.”
Warm Neighbors Cool Friends was started back in 1982 by Illinois Power and Sams says Ameren Illinois has continued to promote and support the program which allows those who are not in need to donate and help others.
“One of the things we’re most proud of is that Ameren covers all administrative costs so anyone who donates to our program, 100% of their donation goes directly to Ameren Illinois customers in need.
We are one of the very few non for profits that can say that, so we’re very proud of that fact and real proud of all the people that didn’t know the program was available and never needed help before or who have received help before. They’re just very thankful that there is a program like this available.”
The program covers 44,000 square miles of Ameren Illinois territory. Sams says information on what counties are covered and how assistance is made available, including income guidelines can be found online at Warm Neighbors Cool Friends dot org.
In Morgan and Scott County the Jacksonville Salvation Army administers the program. You can stop by the Salvation Army citadel located at 331 West Douglas Avenue or call 217-245-7124 to find out how to get started.