HELP IS NEEDED FOR FAMILIES STRUGGLING TO PAY UTILITY BILLS

(Memphis) Throughout the city of Memphis and Shelby county, the need for financial help remains the same for many families, but the faces have changed.

At MIFA, the Metropolitan Interfaith Association, which works to end poverty, it sees it first hand. Sally Heinz is MIFA’s executive director.

“If you were to come to MIFA in the morning people are here requesting assistance, you’d see people just like you,” Heinz said.

These people seeking help are no longer just single mothers, but these days they are also single dads, grandparents, seniors and those without children and of all races facing difficult times.

“The choice a family has to make between paying for a medical expense or paying their utility bill and families, we often find ourselves in a crisis,” Heinz said.

It’s why thirty years ago, MIFA and Memphis Light, Gas and Water teamed up to provide utility assistance for eligible individuals and families in financial crises.

These are services many of us might take for granted, but not a family dealing with an unexpected job loss or a medical expense.

Jerry Collins is president of MLGW.

“There’s a huge need. There are many customers in desperate situations and MIFA has been a lifeline for those customers to help them through hard times,” Collins said.

MLGW customers pay for the Plus-1 program by adding a dollar or more to their utility bills each month.

MIFA’s role is to screen clients for eligibility and priority. The average eligible household receives $200 in assistance.

“There is a great need. We were able to assist 1,200 families last year, but 5,200 families requested financial assistance. So, not everyone received assistance,” Heinz said.

That’s why MIFA and MLGW say your help, your donation, your kindness can make a big difference in the lives of strangers and in some cases your neighbors by supporting the plus 1 program.

“MLGW serves only people in Shelby County and the people have an opportunity to come together and help their fellow-man, helping them pay their utility bills through Plus 1,” Collins said.

“I think by helping anyone in the community you are helping your neighbor and makes Memphis a strong, more viable and healthy community,” Heinz said.

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