Eastern Oregon

Recovery Grants Keep the Lights On

OCF received this moving update from Rev. Tillie MakePeace, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Milton-Freewater, who is distributing OCF grant funds to residents impacted by COVID-19 who were unable to pay their electric bills.

Yesterday I got to help five folks keep their power on with OCF grant money. Thank you!

One lady, a 94-year-old, semi-retired baker receiving social security, supports her differently-abled grandson who also helps her. The grandson had a part-time job but was laid off last month due to COVID-19 influence on his job. She was in arrears on her power bill by $188.27. It was a pure joy to tell her that we could help. Thank you. She offered me a coffee cake. I shared with her that I've gained weight already during this crisis just because comfort eating is hard to control.

Another lady, who cleans houses for a living, had all her clients cancel due to COVID-19 scare. She brought me an eviction notice and tears. She makes about $600 a month. She supports a young son. It was a joy to tell her that we could help.

An older gentleman, in his 80s, received a shut-off notice. He got his daughter to call me. He was worried that his English wasn't good enough to talk with me. He worked at Smith's Frozen foods in Weston part-time. He does get some Social Security benefits. It was a beautiful joy to help him with the power bill and to support the daughter with resources for her kids. She did not know about some of the local support through the school district.

A local caterer who lives in her shop has lost most of her business. In an effort to not waste the food goods she had, she cooked and delivered beautiful meals to shut-in folks. She was arrears on her power bill. OCF paid $200 of the total bill. She offered me food, too.

An older lady in her 60s who lives on $700/month and cleans houses to bring home more money, found a friend who speaks English and walked about two miles to my office to ask for help. Her clients had canceled. She was so humble that I was embarrassed. She told me how grateful she is to get a small Social Security check and how grateful she is to be trusted to clean houses for other folks. Then in tears, she told me about her power bill. She was tiny and curled up in a chair to cry and tell me what she needed. I knew I had to let her finish her story, yet it was hard for me to not interrupt and tell her that we could help. She did not need to grovel and I didn’t want her to. I couldn't touch her. I wanted so badly to take her tiny hands in mine and assure her that, with OCF's money, we could help. Her friend finally got her to look up at my smile and tears, then we all rejoiced, clapping and wanting to hug.

I've learned that joyfulness can be tiring. I'm so very blessed to be able to serve the needs of simple, hard-working country folks. Thank you so very much for all of your support, compassion, intention and money. May you be blessed as much as your generosity blesses others.

Peace and Joy in all their forms,