The Times West Virginian

January 27, 2014

‘Heat My Home’ to help those in need

Connecting Link program lasts through winter

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The Connecting Link Inc. is encouraging community members to collect their loose change and put it to good use.

This social service agency, which is an agency of the United Way of Marion County, works with individuals and families in crisis situations, said executive director Jone Webb. One aspect of the organization is helping people who have received a termination notice on a major utility like electric, gas or water.

The Connecting Link’s new campaign, called “Heat My Home,” will last through the winter months. Area residents, businesses, churches and organizations are asked to join in this effort by collecting their coins into jars.

“The ‘Heat My Home’ campaign was born out of necessity in order to maintain someone’s gas or electric to maintain heat in their home for more than 30 days,” Webb said. “Actually, realistically it takes a jar full of coins to heat someone’s home for 30 days.”

This organization, in existence for more than 15 years, initially started in Marion County and expanded into Monongalia, Preston and Harrison counties.

“Each office is county-specific, so all donations that are made are specific to that particular county,” she said.

The office in Fairmont, located at 205 Fairmont Ave., serves all of Marion County. Locations are also found in Morgantown, which works with residents of both Monongalia and Preston counties, and Clarksburg, which assists all of Harrison County.

“We don’t have really funding from state or federal dollars that helps individuals with heating their home or running water, so all of our donations that come in are put right out into the community and help respond to those needs,” Webb said.

Some churches, businesses and schools have already been doing their part to help collect change. Webb suggested that this project is a great opportunity to teach children the importance of giving back to the community.

People interested in the “Heat My Home” campaign may call The Connecting Link in Fairmont at 304-363-4882 or stop by the office to get a collection jar or find out what else they can do. Information is also available online at connectinglinkwv.com.

“Every dollar or dime that they donate, every little bit helps,” she said.

The Connecting Link also assists with the copay for clients’ prescription medications, and transportation to and from work and non-emergency medical appointments. In addition, the organization is involved in a homeless initiative, Webb said.

The agency has money that can go toward the first month’s rent and deposit for someone who is homeless and going into housing for the first time, she said. Services are coordinated to make sure the client is successful in staying in their housing.

“We want to make sure that people stay housed and are able to stay warm and function,” Webb said. “We want to build self-sufficiency.”

She said work, school and family are so important, and The Connecting Link tries to make sure that people can handle the pressures of life without becoming reliant on this assistance.

“The homeless is the responsibility of our entire community,” Webb said. “Any donation anyone would like to make will definitely help the communities that we all live in.”

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.