By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer
This Saturday, hundreds of people across Ingham County will brave the cold to raise money for those in need. The 24th annual Walk for Warmth will help the Capital Area Community Services, Inc. continue its services, and help more people in need this winter.
Frigid temperatures throughout Michigan have hit many low-income families especially hard. Marina Poroshin, the rural Ingham center coordinator for the Capital Area Community Services, Inc., hopes that people in Ingham County can help those in need.
“We walk in the cold because we want people to realize how it feels to live in the cold,” Poroshin said. “It drives the idea back home.”
She said because of the bizarre winter facing residents, there is a higher demand for assistance.
“There is an increased need this year, much higher than the last year because the winter is so harsh,” Poroshin said. “People burn through their propane much faster.”
Serving more than nine towns and townships in rural Ingham County, Poroshin’s office provides assistance for low-income families in need of utility and rent payments, propane, and deliverable fuel assistance, among other services.
“Helping people keep their houses warm is our major concern, and big efforts are spent on making sure people don’t live in the cold,” Poroshin said.
Other organizations in the community are helping. At the First United Methodist Church, Marilyn Lautzenheiser said the church is known for helping the less fortunate.
“At our church we help with clothes. We have a clothing bank, so people know that,” Lautzenheiser said. “They’ll come here and get free clothes.”
People also turn to the church when they fear losing their homes, Lautzenheiser said.
“What we get mainly requests for are if people are going to be evicted. We make sure they’re getting all the assistance they can,” Lautzenheiser said. “Sometimes we can help a little bit, and sometimes other churches chip in.”
At the CACS, getting help is also fun and informative according to Poroshin.
“For everybody that we assist we provide some educational workshops: energy smart and budgeting, and money management,” Poroshin said. “It is one of the requirements, but people enjoy that.”
She also said her agency has been operating mostly on state, federal and city grants for utilities and housing.
However, due to strict government guidelines, many people struggling do not qualify for aid.
“We get a lot of money to help people with metered or delivered fuel, but with all government money, it comes with a lot of strings attached,” Poroshin said. “That’s why it’s important to have some private funds.”
Private funds, like those raised during the Walk for Warmth, help families not far above the income threshold, but still in need.
Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. in front of the First United Methodist Church.