PLYMOUTH – The Rotary Club of Terryville has announced that from the start of the year through September, it has helped 14 local families pay their heating bills.
The club’s fund, which is in its fourth year, paid nearly $9,000 in heating bills for families that needed immediate assistance, according to club President Martin Semmel, who is also Plymouth’s superintendent of schools.
“The fund was started by the club four years ago when its former president, James Klaneski, was moved by news of a death, due to exposure, of a resident in a neighboring town,” said Semmel. “We didn’t want to ever hear of something like that occurring in our community.”
Semmel said that the fund is set up in so that every request for help that is received and granted is done so in a totally anonymous manner. The funds are held by the Rotary Club in a separate designated account.
If a resident has applied for assistance through the Human Services Department at Town Hall and is ineligible to receive aid from other sources, the director then contacts the Rotary Club. The invoice for fuel (oil, gas, electricity, wood, bio-fuel) is submitted to the club, with the customer’s name redacted, and paid directly to the vendor.
“With this system, the name of the recipient of assistance is kept totally anonymous,” said Semmel. “It’s a very simple, but very effective system. When a request is received from Human Services, it is usually paid in less than 24 hours. This is truly a rapid-response fund.”
Semmel said donations to the fund this year have been made by local businesses, foundations, and individual citizens. Past donors include Inland Fuels, the Jay Morin Foundation, Zukowski Family Foundation, Plymouth Schools Dress-Down Committee, Plymouth Congregational Church and many individuals.