While John, a retired veteran, had typically paid his bills in a timely manner, a serious medical issue put him in the hospital and everything at his house took a backseat. When his electricity was turned off after he fell behind in paying his bills, a friend of John’s contacted the utility company to let them know about the situation. The utility representative listened and understood John’s circumstances and helped by contacting Oregon Energy Fund. Oregon Energy Fund was able to offer John assistance that got his power back on and helped him catch up on his bills so he could get a fresh start.
ORRCO is the largest sponsor of our innovative Oil Reclamation Project. This program salvages unused household heating oil to fund our energy bill assistance. ORRCO also salvages unused commercial oil products from sources like business fleets, municipalities, and automotive repair shops.
WEST OREGON ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC.
West Oregon Electric Cooperative, serving over 1,200 square miles of rugged, rural terrain partnered with Oregon Energy Fund to offer support in the form of charitable giving options on their customer bills.
Co-op members now have the opportunity to “round up” their bill, as well as giving one-time and recurring contributions. These dollars and cents provide support to our neighbors in western Oregon, helping to power individuals and families in need.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!!!
Salvador Molly’s Restaurant
1523 SW Sunset Blvd (in the Hillsdale area)
Portland, Oregon 97239
Saturday, January 27 – Saturday, February 24th
Test your spicy food fortitude for a great cause or enjoy watching the show! Help support Oregon Energy Fund by stopping by Salvador Molly’s and ordering a mild or spicy item from their special Great Balls of Fire menu throughout February. A portion of sales from each order goes to help Oregonians in need of energy assistance.
While you are there enjoy cheering on the spicy food eating contestants who take up the Great Balls of Fire challenge.
Are you up for a spicier challenge? The month-long drive begins with a playful Toughest Tongue Contest and ends with the crowning of the King or Queen of Heat.
Call Salvador Molly’s at 503-293-1790 and sign up to participate in one of the Great Balls of Fire contests.
Visit www.salvadormollys.com for details.
We are pleased to present a review of our last year – we hope you enjoy this overview of our activities for 2017. Thank you for the important role that you have played in supporting our critical mission.
OREGONIANS FACED STEEP CHALLENGES OVER THE PAST YEAR
Snowstorms last winter closed schools and businesses for days, forcing many working parents to take time off whether or not they could afford it. During the summer, wildfires displaced many people from their homes, while others were told to stay inside, as an ominous haze blanketed much of the state in dangerously unhealthy air.
While the storms and fires were difficult for all of us, they resulted in financial crisis for the 50% of Oregonians unable to cover an unexpected expense of just $500. Families faced devastating income shortages as wage earners were unable to work. One of our partner agencies reported 161 individuals requesting utility bill assistance in a single day.
HOW WE HELPED
We responded quickly to these needs, raising over $1 million to help provide utility assistance across the state. Oregon Energy Fund’s emergency assistance has helped thousands of people — including hundreds of seniors living on fixed incomes — pay utility bills that increased due to higher usage.
We began developing new partnerships with agencies to reach more communities and won grants from both businesses and foundations. This will help us build our organizational capacity and serve even more people in the coming years.
WE’RE READY FOR NEXT YEAR
With another tough winter forecasted, we’ve already set in motion our 2017-18 plan for aid. One of our primary goals is to increase funds by 20% annually for the next three years in order to better address the 78% of Oregonians left unserved.
We’ll also be addressing the ever-increasing needs across Oregon by working with more like-minded organizations to keep children, seniors, and the disabled healthy, safe, and housed.
YOUR SUPPORT MAKES THIS WORK POSSIBLE
We are able to provide relief to Oregonians thanks to our generous supporters. Thank you for helping us assist so many individuals and families in need this past year.
–Brian Allbritton, Executive Director
The kinds of events that can push a neighbor into a financial crisis include natural disasters, medical emergencies, job loss, or accidents. These can be especially hard on families with young children as well as elderly adults. However, when Oregonians come together, a little bit of help can go a long way.
IT’S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP
“My elderly neighbor lost her husband last year and she has been struggling to adjust to being on her own and keeping up with her bills.
We have been concerned because she had so many big medical bills to deal with after his death. She has been so worried because she lives on a fixed income.
I suggested several times that she might try calling a charity to see if they could help, but she would always say “no thanks.” She was embarrassed by the thought of having to ask anyone for help.
She finally made an appointment at a nearby social services agency. The staff were very helpful and explained how to apply for energy assistance. Later when I saw her again, she seemed so much more herself. I was so glad to hear that Oregon Energy Fund was able to help her.”
A DAUGHTER’S PERSPECTIVE
“My mom was devastated when she lost her receptionist job after 16 years. After she and my dad were divorced, she was able to support us with her job plus the income from the guest room that we rented out. Unfortunately, our roommate injured her back and was put on medical leave so she couldn’t pay her rent. We live very modestly, but the double blow left us in a bad position and we couldn’t afford to pay the utility bills.
When she told me that, I asked myself, “How were we going to refrigerate or cook our food without power? How would we keep up with our homework without lights? Most importantly, how would this affect her chances of getting another job soon?”
I got so stressed out just thinking about it. But a good friend told mom where she could go to apply for energy assistance. Fortunately, we were able get the help we needed from Oregon Energy Fund.”
THE CONSEQUENCES OF A WILDFIRE
The Stewarts were people you may have read about during the fires last summer. With little notice, they had to evacuate their Gorge home. With just a few hours to prepare, the older couple grabbed essential items: birth certificates, clothing, photos, and a few personal items, and headed to Portland stay with their daughter.
Fortunately, their house did not burn, and they were allowed to return home. But, Mr. Stewart had to be treated a few times for emergency respiratory conditions triggered by the smoky air. To prevent another attack, the couple kept the windows shut and the AC on to combat the effects of the smoke and the extreme summer heat. Unfortunately, this increased the couple’s energy consumption significantly, and they were hit with a devastating combination of medical bills, utility costs, and other expenses from the fire that they couldn’t afford.
Oregon Energy Fund provided energy assistance to help ease the Stewarts’ burden.
THE 1.5 INCHES THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
“I didn’t believe it could happen to me. I’m a good driver. But last winter with just an inch and a half of snow on the ground, my truck was T-boned by another driver. That’s what messed up my hip and set off a chain reaction of consequences.
Because of my injury, I wasn’t able to work for a while. Because my truck was totaled, I wasn’t able to use it in my business as a contractor. That meant a huge loss of work and income. The medical bills from the ER visit and treatments that followed piled up.
Thank goodness I was able to get energy assistance to keep the lights on and get myself back on track.”
Thanks so much for supporting our
Friday, September 22, 2017 | The Historic Treasury Ballroom
Broadway Ave, Downtown Portland, Oregon
Thanks to all of our sponsors and supporters for attending our roaring 20’s, speakeasy-style Power Gala.
Proceeds will benefit Oregon Energy Fund – powering the lives of Oregonians in crisis.
I AM POWERED BY COMMUNITY.
“I have worked with families in financial crisis who were struggling to pay their bills and were making choices between food, rent, medication and utilities. Some of them were living in apartments that were sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter – conditions that are particularly hard on elderly people. I also saw how resolving one problem can go a long way towards helping people stabilize their lives enough to gain control over other issues. That’s powerful! That’s why I’m so glad to know that Oregon Energy Fund is here to help.”
–James – Former Case Manager, Portland Metro Area
POWERED BY PURPOSE
Family, Friends, Coffee, Faith, Sense of Community … I asked you all to tell us what powers you and your replies were just wonderful – demonstrating so many great examples of what motivates and inspires you. Your responses tell us that while we may be from different parts of Oregon, we have many experiences in common. Your stories help us all understand common struggles and the power we have to make positive change possible for our friends, family, and neighbors – even for people that we’ve never met.
An example that captures the spirit of this occurred just last month as Oregonians experienced an extended heat wave combined with exceptional amounts of wild fire smoke. The temperatures in the Portland Metro area were so high that they disrupted light rail travel, forcing people to find alternative ways to get to work.
However, neighbors stepped up to set up ad hoc carpools. Folks who had some room to spare in their vehicles helped others who otherwise would have suffered long delays waiting for trains in the heat.
While this wasn’t a lot of effort for those who offered assistance, it did have a huge impact on the folks they helped, particularly if they had breathing issues. It just goes to show that a little can go a long way and that every bit helps.
In our upcoming newsletter issues, we’ll be looking at different areas of the state. Each edition’s stories are a composite of the diverse and shared experiences of people working together to solve problems. Through the power of giving, neighbors are helping neighbors, just like our carpoolers.
–Brian Allbritton, Executive Director
IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE…
Sometimes ordinary Oregonians find themselves in hardship situations that can lead to a financial crisis. That’s when getting the emergency energy assistance they need to pay their utility bills can go a long way to supporting household stability. Below are four stories from the Portland Metro area that illustrate scenarios where neighbors helping neighbors through the power of giving makes a truly powerful difference.
Snow Ball Effect: “Due to a winter ice storm that temporarily closed down her work place, my roommate wasn’t paid and couldn’t cover her portion of the rent. This happened right after my dad passed away. So I was simultaneously hit with the full cost of rent, and helping my family pay for the funeral. When we received a higher than usual energy bill that month due to record low temperatures, the bills snow balled out of control. Friends suggested I check the Oregon Energy Fund website for resources, and before long, we were getting help with our energy bill to stabilize our finances enough to keep it all together through that rocky period.” -Gresham Area Student
Staying Warm and Housed: “I live alone on a fixed income and I do everything I can to keep costs down on a very tight budget. To be eligible for my affordable housing program I cannot risk a lapse of payment or a shut off of my utilities, but this past winter was so bad my utility bill jumped up to more than $300. I was so scared I did not have enough money to pay the bill this time, but a neighbor told me about Oregon Energy Fund. With their help I was able to take care of my energy bill so that I don’t have to risk losing my apartment on top of everything else.” –Downtown Portland Area Resident
Family Copes with Lost Wages: “My husband lost his job. Since then he has been seeking employment for over two months. Money has been tight and we’ve had to make tough choices between things like buying food and medicine so I appreciated the emergency help we received when we couldn’t pay our utility bill. I think about all the ways this helps our family function at a basic level by providing lights, refrigeration, cooking heat, and much more.” –North Portland Area Family
Aging at Home: “My parents are doing what they can to stay in the home they have lived in for almost 40 years. They receive SSI and sometimes it is difficult to stay on top of the heating and cooling bills when they have so many medical needs and it essential expenses to take care of. They used to donate to charity to help others; and they were embarrassed when they needed charity themselves. What a relief it was to know that Oregon Energy Fund was there when they needed to get help with their utility bill.” –SW Portland Elderly Couple