JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Beginning Monday, Jan. 7, folks who have received a disconnect notice or are within four days of running out of heating fuel like coal, oil or propane can apply for help to keep those heaters going.
Susan Cantrill is among those who will benefit from the program.
She’s like a lot of single moms. She works hard. She cuts corners where she can. But sometimes, money still runs short. That's where the home energy assistance program comes in.
“If it hadn't have been for the program, a lot of the winter months I wouldn't have had heat,” Cantrill said.
She works at the Main Street Cafe in Paintsville. But in the cold winter months, her paycheck is not enough to keep her house warm.
“What I make here is what I support my children on, what I pay my bills on, what we buy toiletries with," Cantrill said. "It's gone before I get my heating bills.”
She's already made a lot of sacrifices. When insurance got too high, she sold her car. She now walks everywhere. And other than the heating assistance from HEAP, Cantrill says she and her two kids get no other help.
“You feel like you're the only one that can't come up with your bills and things,” Cantrill said. “But then you apply and you see what a Godsend it is, especially if you've got kids.”
Big Sandy Area Community Action Director Mike Howell says he runs into a lot of people with questions about the program.
“They'll say, 'What can we expect?' I'm a little hesitant to come because, you know, I've never done this before,” Howell said.
He's never seen demand this high before. But he worries there are still some folks afraid to ask for help.
“It's not nothing to be embarrassed about, that's for sure,” Howell said. “It's there to help people that's in need.
Cantrill says she knows asking for help isn't easy. But it is worth it.
“There's just no words to describe knowing that your kids have a warm home to come home to after school,” Cantrill said.
That's a feeling she hopes everyone will have as the days turn cold.
The crisis portion of the HEAP program begins Jan. 7 at Community Action Agencies all across Kentucky.
You'll need to bring proof of address, Social Security cards for all household members, proof of age of everyone in the household and proof that your heat is about to be turned off or run out.
This money is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. That's why it is important to make it there as close to the signup day as possible.