The Mountain Times

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Fuel assistance cuts put poor and disabled Vermonters in crisis

After reading an article in the summer regarding vicious fuel assistance cuts of 40% or more, I started an event called Running on Empty in Vermont, which took place Sept. 15. The event was not well attended possibly due to light rain and most probably apathy.  At any rate, I have been working for the people and continue to keep all Vermont legislator's informed. I produced a TV show at PEGTV in Killington-Rutland CH15 which is not in their video archives under Running on Empty in Vermont Suzie Wind.
At this point families will get a meager check of $543 in November around Turkey day and nothing more. They used to get a second check in January. Last year people were getting around $800-900 a year.

Ever since I did the show people have been calling me begging me to get them fuel as they are out. I called Peter Shumlin and demanded that he call BROC in Rutland and have them release emergency fuel to these people. They need $185 each for 50 gallons and I am broke. I would work harder but I cannot pay for everyone's fuel.

The state needs to release at least as much as last year, 6.1 million, or more. Due to Irene, there are more people without heating systems and food.

This winter promises to be a cold one, especially compared to last year, which was very mild. It is unfathomable to me and others that the State of Vermont could cut Social Services at this time. Disabled people are cut off as it is and isolated. At least, let's get them heat.

On Monday, October 3 and I got a call from Peter Shumlin's office and my heart is broken. I was told by his secretary Lee, who admitted that he personally sided with me on the cuts that should be made from the Federal Budget on bomber spending, war spending, space race spending, etc. We should be taking care of our own. He said they were NOT going to release any crises emergency fuel for the Vermonters who have no fuel, no heat and hot water right now. They would get a check in November for $543 and it is still up in the air about whether there would be a second check like last year in January or February.

It is apparent to me that they just do not care enough about the poor and disabled to value them as human beings. All these fine people want is to be warm and have hot water. I asked them to have BROC in Rutland release at least $185 per family for 50 gallons of fuel to tide them over, but I was told no. So now that I am flat broke, what do I tell these poor people looking to me after watching me on TV?  I have been using my food stamp money and bringing food and things needed to sick people in my area. Who will help me get fuel to these people as I am disabled myself and live on $1200 a month SSD and food stamps? Is there anybody out there that cares like me? I do not like the position I am in and I am reaching out for help.

Susan Meadows Wind, Mendon, Vt.
Disabled activist and advocate for the VCIL (Vermont Center for Independent Living)