Home » Sharon » Distributing necessities to help those who call Sharon home

Reminding residents that it’s time to sign up for winter fuel assistance, Sharon’s Social Services Agent, Mary O’Reilly, oversaw distribution of supplies of donated food and school supplies at a drive-through event on Saturday, Aug. 28. Photo by Leila Hawken

Distributing necessities to help those who call Sharon home

SHARON — As a reminder to residents that it is time to complete applications for winter heating assistance, the town held a combination fuel assistance and free distribution event for food and school supplies at the town garage on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Hosting the well-planned event was the town’s relatively new social services agent, Mary O’Reilly, who has been serving in her new position since early May.

“The season for applying for fuel assistance is now,” O’Reilly said, urging residents to complete the required forms within the next two months to get included in the system, before the Nov. 1 deadline for submitting the application. 

“You need to re-apply each year,” she said as a reminder. “I am not able to do it automatically for you.”  

She urged people to contact her by phone or email well in advance of the deadline.

As an added incentive, the Saturday event was “an ideal way for people to come and pick up non-perishable foods, as well as necessary school supplies,” all donated by federal and state agencies.

“We had 600 boxes of non-perishable goods,” O’Reilly estimated, acknowledging that some residents may feel awkward about accepting donations, especially if their own need is temporary. 

Although it is not required, those very same people may be in a position to donate to others in the future, or to volunteer, and sometimes they do. Boxes were distributed to anyone who came to the pick-up point on Saturday. 

O’Reilly said that she anticipates holding similar events in the future as they provide a good opportunity to connect with residents and provide information conveniently.

“I can’t believe it,” O’Reilly said of her work in her first four months. So far, she said she has really enjoyed getting to know all the different agencies in the Northwest Corner and meeting like-minded people who are active helpers in the community.

O’Reilly has also learned about the wealth of shared resources among area towns.

Federal funding for rental assistance for tenants and landlords is beginning to flow through the UniteCT program, O’Reilly said. “It’s a happy ending for landlords and tenants,” she said. “I am happy to be a part of it.”

“I welcome people to contact me,” she said. People often offer donations of medical equipment to be passed along. “I can connect the dots for people,” she said, helping them to access what they need, or to suggest area agencies and programs that can offer expert advice or immediate relief.  

O’Reilly is in the Social Services Office at Town Hall on Tuesday through Thursday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Her phone is 860-364-1003 and email is sharon.social.services@gmail.com.

As a former Spanish teacher at Housatonic Regional High School and after years of teaching at Sharon Center School, O’Reilly’s language experience is helpful in reaching out to the town’s migrant population.

She has been a resident of Sharon for 20 years, but community service has always been a part of her life.

“It has been a lifetime of being a helpful person,” she said, learning the value of service from her parents. Her father served as mayor of Springfield, Mass., and her mother emphasized the importance of helping others.

 “They set a pattern of volunteering and outreach,” she said.

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