As state faces bitter cold temperatures, nonprofit group sees more calls for heat assistance

As state faces bitter cold temperatures, nonprofit group sees more calls for heat assistance

The head of a Madison nonprofit that helps low-income Wisconsin residents get heating assistance said Thursday that the organization is getting an “unprecedented number of calls” coming in, especially after a recent cold snap.

“We’re generating somewhere between 200 to 300 calls a day,” said Tim Bruer, director of Energy Services, Inc. He said the organization has seen its biggest call volume increase over the past two seasons, including a 60 percent increase last winter in calls from Dane County residents.

Bruer said pride often keeps people from asking for help staying warm until things reach the level of a crisis.

“Many of the folks that are coming in often are coming in in a crisis situation, because of their pride,” Bruer said. “They don’t want to come forward and are going to try to survive and taking money from their basic survival needs. They’re literally choosing between eating and heating.”

Increased energy prices are likely to blame, Bruer said.

“Heat, which is a basic necessity, or having your power on, has become really an unafforable luxury for literally thousands of Wisconsinites through no fault of their own,” he said.

Bruer said now, more than ever, people should check on vulnerable neighbors to make sure their heat is on.

“Take a few minutes out of your day, not just to call, but to stop by, (to) make sure there’s heat in their house,” Bruer said. “(Make sure) they don’t have their furnace off or they’re not just using their stove.”

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund at 1-800-891-9276 or visit their website . The organization offers a special program, “Heat For Heroes,” to help veterans in need.