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Fund offers options for struggling families

KENT — Whether or not the economy has begun to stabilize, many area residents are still struggling to pay their bills each month. With the winter months approaching (and heating oil bills coming due), these struggles become more acute.

Kent residents in need should keep in mind, especially during the upcoming holiday season, that there are resources they can tap into. The Kent Community Fund, the Kent Food Bank and the town’s social services agent can help with many challenges.

The Kent Community Fund was founded in 2006. According to Kent Social Services Director Jerrilynn Tiso, it was “set up specifically to be the go-to fund for Kent residents who were struggling and in need.â€

The money that goes into the fund is donated by churches, local charitable organizations and individual members of the community. Catherine Bachrach, president of the  Kent Community Fund, said the fund was “designed to give local residents an opportunity to help the other residents of Kent in emergency situations.â€

The fund provides individuals and families in need with confidential grants to help pay medical bills, rent, energy bills, and other expenses. All grants are paid directly to the vendors.

To be eligible for a grant, applicants must first be referred by Tiso, who also manages town funds from the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program.

Aside from the daily requirements of heat and food, the holiday season can be extra stressful for families in need, especially when money is not available to  provide food for holiday celebrations.

Each year, David MacMillan (aka “Nascar Daveâ€) and his organization, the Sunday in the Country Food Drive, work hard to raise money so they can donate holiday meals to local families through the Kent Food Bank. The Kent Lions Club works with MacMillan to help provide the meals.

Kent residents can sign up for the meals at the Kent Food Bank. This year, 26 families picked up Thanksgiving baskets on Nov. 20. Christmas baskets will be available next month.

“It is important to note that a lot of people assume they’re not eligible. People should not assume they have too much money for assistance,†said Tiso.

Kent Social Services is still accepting applications for energy assistance, she said, adding that incomes up to $41,470 (for a family of two) and $60,986 (for a family of four) qualify.

For more information, call Kent Social Services at 860-927-1586 or e-mail kentcommunityfund@gmail.com.

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