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West End ministers help community with utility bills

Jun. 03, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The West End Ministerial Association wants to help community members pay their utility bills.

It's a project the association has undertaken for some time now, but with the downturn in the economy, it's expecting that more people will need help. So the ministers are looking to the people of the West End to pitch in and help their neighbors.

The program works in conjunction with Information and Referral to screen applicants who need assistance. Information and Referral usually gives the association a handful of names per month, along with the pertinent information about their utility company.

The money goes directly to the utility company, said the Rev. David Richards, pastor at Second Presbyterian Church. So it's not the churches handing out cash to whomever asks, he pointed out.

The churches involved are Second Presbyterian, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Westmoreland United Methodist Church, Madison Avenue Church of God, Madison Avenue Christian Church, Central United Methodist Church and Central Church of the Nazarene.

But those who aren't members of those churches are invited to help as well, Richards said.

"As a result of people in the community knowing our need, individuals have contributed," he said. "We're only serving the utility needs of the people of the West End. ... We know that donors want to give, but want to know that their money is going to a responsible agency."

WEMA usually provides $500 in utility help a month, but it could increase that, depending on the generosity of the community, Richards said. Right now, the organization only has enough funds to last through June, he said.

To help, contact Richards at 304-522-3040, or e-mail drichm13@verizon.net. Checks can be made out to the West End Ministerial Association and sent to P.O. Box 7844, Huntington, WV 25778.