When temperatures plummet, many low-income families are forced to chose between buying groceries or paying for the energy bill. Since 1997 The Salvation Army-run Good Neighbours Energy Program in Nova Scotia has been helping individuals and families when they have nowhere else to turn.
“When the program started it was a one-time only deal,” says Diane van der Horden, The Salvation Army’s public relations director for the region. “ Now applicants can get help every 24 months.”
From January to April hundreds of people who don’t know how they will keep their homes warm apply to the program. The program targets the working poor and those on fixed incomes who can’t find family or other support. They are credited with up to $400 to pay their heating bill. It takes about two weeks to process succesful applicants and 1,400 families annually can be helped. The Good Neighbours Program is is a unique partnership with businesses, community and government working together.
Assistance goes beyond practical support. Salvation Army personnel have opportunity to talk with many individuals who also need a listening ear. It’s the Army’s mission to reach out to every person in love and meet the needs of vulnerable, overlooked or ignored people in its communities.
“If the need is there, The Salvation Army wants to ensure families are supported,” says van der Horden.
In 2009 The Salvation Army assisted 868,000 persons witih food, clothing or pracitcal assistance. The Salvation Army exists to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in the communities of our world.