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Funds Low for Fuel Assistance Programs

House-HeatingHOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) –It’s only January, and the many people who depend on the Valley Opportunity Council to help pay for oil to heat their homes, might be left freezing in them. “The real problem is that most of the people that have delivered fuel, oil, propane, kerosene, have used up their benefits. 80% of the people we have with delivered fuel cannot get another delivery,” said Gail Piscane, Energy Programs Director at the Valley Opportunity Council.

When we spoke to Piscane in December, she urged folks who had received their oil deliveries to take it easy, because she knew allotments were tight.

There’s no indication that extra money will be coming in from the federal government. “We are hoping that the state government might give us some money, but we don’t know that that’s going to happen either. And we have heard nothing about the citizen’s energy program, the Joe Kennedy program where normally, the people who would be on fuel assistance would have used up their benefits, but then they could get another 100 gallons. That’s not there,” she added.

100 gallons only lasts about 3 weeks. There’s 2 more months left of winter.

Of course, this bitter cold snap is not only hurting those who rely on the Valley Opportunity Council, but those who work there as well. “To make it worse for us, at the administrative level, we were cut in administrative funds, so we’re behind in our certification of people who heat with electric and gas. They’ll get certified, and they’re concerned. They’re calling in, ‘Where’s my benefits?’ But we’re doing the best we can because we have a reduced staff,” Piscane stated.

Piscane understands that it’s tough, but urges folks to be patient just a little while longer.

Massachusetts has a Winter Moratorium that lasts from November 15th through March 15, prohibiting gas & electric companies from shutting off heat for inability to pay.

There’s also a fraction of what was available in the council’s donation account. That means if you received some of those funds last year, you won’t be able to this year.

If you’d like to donate, you can send cash, or make a check out to the

Valley Opportunity Council Fuel Donation Account

300 High St. 2nd Floor

Holyoke, MA 01040.


  • fresh413

    Those people should get off there ass and get there own money. When me and my fam needed the assistance they told us we was making to much money and we jst living check to check. They give the assistance to the wrong people. If u sit on your ass all day then they help you besides that they won’t help you!!

  • TheScottishWeasel

    Michelle, Imagine if you added football players salaries in to that?

  • TheScottishWeasel

    @dawn marie Peterson: Let me explain the dental program at Ludlow Hilton Correctional facility to you. When a tooth shows visable decay, you can get on the waiting list. The list is to pull teeth only, no other dental work is done but extractions. Imagine two years with a toothache? But it’s really a joke because the average stray at Ludlow is less than 2 years anyway. Medical care is support for conditions you came in with. One man brought in for child support issues due to a heart attack had all 5 of his heart meds taken away for the 1st 48 hours he was there. Any ailment you have such as stomach problems, diarrhea (I’m getting to the food) headaches sprains, etc etc are ignored. The nurse visits once a day, you are required to give 24 hours advance notice before you get sick so you can see her. She writes down your symptoms, and says “sorry”. Unless you have a seizure or heart attack, you get no real healthcare at all. Prisoners are fed on .88 a day, that requires stale bread previously fed to farm animals,and bad meats and vegetables. All leftover veggies on anyones plate, are saved up all week until there is enough, and they make “stew” with the bad veggies and leftover meat whatever that may be at that time. No salt, pepper, ketchup, spices, roughage at all. The AC has not worked since three years after being installed, heat is sparse.
    I can go on, but if you want to know the truth about how badly we treat prisoners, that is it. aJust don’t try to say we treat the poor and elderly that badly.

  • TheScottishWeasel

    Kati: What it is meant to be, and what it actually is to people who receive it, are two different things. It is like EBT that is meant to add to your months groceries, but for many it is all we have to spend on food for the month.

  • TheScottishWeasel

    They supposedly offer a energy audit to help conserve what little you will get, when after requesting several times, nobody ever calls back. These programs if they really existed would payback over and over.