Note: In an effort to highlight the prevention programs that are available in Mifflin County, Mifflin County Communities That Care (CTC) is offering a new series that will focus on one service provider each month. CTC offers this information with the purpose of strengthening our families and community.

No one in our community should be cold this winter. There are many resources available to help. Mifflin County Human Services Department wants to bring your attention to the following resources. If you are aware of other resources, please call the Human Services Department at 242-5452 to help update their resource list and help to connect people with the services they need.

  • Weatherization tips: First, test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick or candle next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.
  • Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic.
  • Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace them with double-pane windows. Storm windows as much as double the R-value of single-pane windows and they can help reduce drafts, water condensation, and frost formation. As a less costly and less permanent alternative, you can use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Remember, the plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes – 24 hours a day!

In addition, there are local organizations with programs designed to help with financial costs of energy use.

* The Coalition of HOPES, formerly know as the Energy Bank, serves both Mifflin and Juniata County residents. The Coalition of HOPES was formed in 2005; the local Emergency Food and Shelter Program Board (EFSP) spearheaded its formation and continues to provide oversight.

Current partners of the Coalition of HOPES include: the Shelter Services, United Way of Mifflin-Juniata, TIU Community Education Services and the Mifflin-Juniata Human Services Department. In addition, churches, businesses and other human service agencies support and access HOPES.

The Energy Bank is now a part of the Coalition of HOPES, and it is a grassroots approach at helping our own community. The Energy Bank is administered by the EFSP Advisory Board, is fiscally managed by the United Way, and is funded with donations from citizens and corporations. The Energy Bank operates on a sliding fee scale; it is not only for low-income individuals.

The Coalition of HOPES focuses its efforts on improving delivery systems for those in need by preventing duplication of services. HOPES streamlines the process for people who are seeking assistance for utilities, food, shelter and any other basic need by providing a single point of contact with a dedicated phone number and staff (717-248-2552). To help spread the dollars as far as possible, people may not apply if they have been assisted in the last 24 months through the program. This year, elderly persons and households with children under the age of 14 will get first priority in receiving assistance.

* LIHEAP (Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program) is administered by the County Assistance Office. (242-6095). To receive LIHEAP, you must apply as soon as you can rather than wait until January when your benefit amounts go up. If you wait until January, this may very well affect your eligibility. This year, the state has changed income eligibility; also, applications are only mailed to past recipients. Contact your local County Assistance Office for an application.

* Be aware of other utility assistance programs and their guidelines. The Coalition of HOPES may be able to refer you to other programs. Customers should check oil levels in the morning and call agencies early in the day; please don’t wait until agencies are closing for the day! If you do this, the staff who handles intake may be gone for the day and will not be available to assist you until the next day.

* Some churches and agencies are offering their facilities as “warm havens.” Contact the Human Services Department at 242-5452 for more information about this.