WHMI: 2016 Walk for Warmth Raises Funds for Local Families

February 20, 2016

A recipient of benefits from OLHSA last year helped kick off a fundraising event at the Hartland Educational Service Center Saturday. Cathie Watt says walking in the Walk for Warmth this year is a way to pay back just a small portion of what she received last year when hard times struck her family. In its 26th year the Walk for Warmth raises funds to help people in need of assistance with winter utility bills. Watt’s family was one of some 500 to receive help with utility costs last year. The Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency hosts the event in hopes of raising over $90,000. 100 percent of the money is used to help residents in Livingston County. OLHSA CEO Ron Borngesser says the event was born out of need. He says it started 26 years ago with the 29 Community Action Agencies in Michigan. He says they saw a need for assistance when a lot of people were having shut offs. Borngesser says they saw that something needed to be done and there wasn't enough assistance coming from other areas, so they decided as a network to have an independent fundraiser to help supplement the problem of paying utility bills. He says it is just wonderful to see all the volunteers come out and have a good time. He says last year Livingston County helped raise about half of the $180,000 goal between the two county's they serve, to help fund the heating bills of those in need. Watt was one of about 300 walkers, and was joined by a number of elected officials, church groups and civic organizations. Watt tells WHMI her family needed help last year after neither she nor her husband could work for several months. She says she didn’t think she qualified but finally asked for help when they’d been out of propane for two weeks. She says it was hard for her because she thought it was probably help for those that are truely indigent. She says she had a false persona and it's hard to ask for help. She says she finally went to OLHSA and it was amazing. The people were just wonderful and they genuinely help everybody and anybody from all walks of life. Watt says they filled up her propane tank and they got warm again. She says it gave them that helping hand they needed to get back on their feet. Watt says she is grateful for the help she received and it changed her life. As of Saturday morning walkers had raised $80,000 toward the Livingston County goal. Donations continue to be accepted through the OLHSA website. (DS) 

Read the article on WHMI's website here.