(Update: Adding video, comments from Hewitt)
‘This is how a lot of people stay warm, this is how people cook their food — it’s essential’
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — St. Vincent De Paul of Bend is trying its best to keep its clients warm by issuing propane vouchers, but rising costs due to growing need are putting a strain on the program that could limit its ability to help those in need.
When the propane vouchers started, St. Vincent De Paul was serving 20 to 30 customers.
“This last month, we issued almost 300 propane vouchers, and the bill was over $8,000, and so it’s steadily grown,” Executive Director Gary Hewitt said Thursday. “It’s grown because it’s a great need for our community.”
St. Vincent De Paul is looking for donors, nonprofits and businesses to help continue the voucher program.
“We’re only able to do it as long as we can afford it, and that’s the unfortunate part,” Hewitt said.
“Not only are the homeless using these propane vouchers — anybody living in a trailer is also using them, or an RV, which uses propane to heat or cook,” Hewitt said.
A Bend resident who asked not to be on camera says she’s been using the propane vouchers for three years.
“It’s because everything is too high,” she said. “It helps make ends meet, because you can’t get vouchers for gas, groceries. It helps that extra little bit for heat and cooking food.”
Hewitt added, “Beginning this month, it’s the last month we’re going to issue propane at 10 gallons a month. It’s going to go to every other month. so now people are going to have to stretch their 10 gallons into two-month periods.”
St. Vincent De Paul received funding as part of a larger grant with NeighborImpact, but the money is almost gone.
Anyone who has an account at St. Vincent De Paul can get a propane voucher. For those who don’t have an account and would like to, they have to provide their birthdate name. Clients can get their free propane from Red Carpet Car Wash South.
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