• 70°

OCAP funding arrives early

In light of economic times, funding for the Organized Community Action Program (OCAP) has been released nearly one month early and the local office will begin accepting appointments on Dec. 15 for assistance.

Elizabeth Seay, coordinator for OCAP, said the community has come to rely on the benefits provided by her agency.

Funded through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), the program offers heating assistance in the winter and cooling assistance in the summer. And while the amount of assistance is based upon a family’s total income, families often received enough money to cover their cooling bill for several months.

“A lot of people depend on OCAP for paying their heating and cooling bills,” Seay said. “Our organization and the funds we provide sometimes mean not having to choose between heating or food. Generally, we don’t get notification of our money until January, but thanks to President (George) Bush — he recognized the need for American families — the money was released early.

“And there is a great need not only here, but nationwide,” she said.”

Residents must call in for an appointment to apply for assistance. No walk-ins will be accepted, Seay said.

“It’s very important for people to realize this is a first come, first serve program,” Seay said. “It’s important to call early and keep trying until you get us.”

Seay said she expects more response than ever before from local residents.

“Assistance is based on the number of people in the household,” she said. “And sometimes there are situations that you don’t have control over — like someone loses their job or becomes sick and can’t work. We use the prior month’s income to determine eligibility.

“So for those people who are out of work in December, apply in January,” she said. “We might be able to help more.”

Seay said she is hopeful the agency will receive more than one disbursement for winter heating assistance.

“This really is a wonderful thing for elderly people who are on a fixed income,” she said.

Applicants must bring paper copies of the following documents with them at the time of applying:

proof of income for all household members from the prior month. This could be bank statements or check stubs.

a current, unpaid heating bill.

Social Security Card for each member of the household.

Please call the OCAP office at 428-2660 on or after Dec. 15 to make an appointment.