Community News For The Stafford Edition

Angling Gear Tag Sale

UNIONVILLE — The Farmington Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold its annual angling gear tag sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Farmington Community & Senior Center, 321 New Britain Ave.

Admission is $2 but 16 and under may attend for free. Contact Bill Case at 860-678-7245 or visit www.fvtu.org for more information. Check the website in the event of dangerous weather conditions. They are also collecting used spinning gear, including broken reels which can be repaired, for inner city children.

Prayer Shawl Ministry

STAFFORD SPRINGS — The Stafford Prayer Shawl Ministry will now be meeting the second Mondays of the month from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Stafford Public Library, 10 Levinthal Run. All are welcome to attend. The next meeting will take place Monday, Jan. 8.

Anyone who would like to attend and knit, crochet, or quilt prayer shawls is welcome to attend. People are on hand to teach guests how to knit or crochet. If you cannot make the meeting but want to make prayer shawls at home, someone will pick them up. If you or your pastor knows of anyone who could use a prayer shawl, we'll arrange for one to be picked up. Contact Kathy at 860-684-9484 or Karen at 860-684-3384 for information or pick up arrangements.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Service

STAFFORD — A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day service will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Stafford Baptist Church, 12 Leonard Road. The guest speaker is Dr. Micheal E. Hayes, along with The Legacy of Spirituals Choir of Hartford. The service is sponsored by the Stafford Area Clergy Association. For more information, contact Stafford Baptist Church at 860-684-5024.

Packing House Performance Schedule

WILLINGTON — The January performance schedule for The Packing House, 156 River Road, is as follows. The venue is BYOB&F. Snacks and soft drinks are available. For tickets, more shows and general info, visit www.thepackinghouse.us or call 518-791-9497.

Jan. 6: Seat Of Our Pants (Folk/Bluegrass). Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 10: Talent Showcase. Doors open at 6:30 p.m, and the show begins at 7 p.m.

Jan. 16: Drum Circle with Bob Bloom. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 17: EC-CHAP Informational Exchange Meeting, 7 p.m.

Jan. 19: Film Showing, TBD

Jan. 20: Claudia Schmidt & Miro Sprague (Jazz). Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Willington Scholarship Foundation News

WILLINGTON — The Willington Scholarship Foundation is seeking donations and asks that people remember them when making year-end charity donations, either by sending a donation for their general scholarship fund for 2018 or perhaps by funding a named scholarship for 2018 at a higher level than last year.

Visit www.willington.dollarsforscholars.org for more information. Donations may be made at any time and mailed to P.O. Box 194, Willington CT 06279. If you have any questions, call Chopeta Lyons at 860-429-9594. New members are always welcome.

Free Braille Calendars

AREA — The Community Outreach Office of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut has 2018 Braille calendars, free of charge. For more information, contact info@nfbct.org or 860-289-1971.

Holiday Church Services

STAFFORD SPRINGS — First United Methodist Church, 8 Church St., will host a Watch Night Service at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31, with a potluck gathering from 6 to 8 p.m. All are welcome to attend. Call 860-684-2468 or email officefumcstafford@gmail.com with questions.

Community Memory Tree

STAFFORD SPRINGS — Join the First United Methodist Church, 8 Church St., as they turn the lights on the tree of the front lawn from multicolored to clear, in memory or honor of your loved one. Bulb donations are $5 each. You can send a note with a check to FUMC, 8 Church St., Stafford Springs, CT 06076 with your loved one's name and if it's honor or memory, with a check made out to FUMC. Anyone with questions may email officefumcstafford@gmail.com or call 860-684-2468.

Community Action Agencies Accepting Energy Assistance Applications

AREA — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just released $67,255,113 in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding. This amount is 90-percent of LIHEAP funds allocated for the State of Connecticut.

Connecticut residents struggling to pay their utility bills this winter can apply for home heating assistance through Connecticut's Community Action Agency Network. The Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are the only nonprofit agencies administering LIHEAP, which provides home heating assistance to Connecticut's most vulnerable residents. Each CAA has application intake sites throughout their service regions. Some sites may include local town halls, and customers should check with their local CAA for a complete site listing.

In Connecticut this program is called the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and is housed under the Department of Social Services (DSS). The state's Community Action Agencies administer the $74M+ program locally in all 169 cities and towns. CAAs are now accepting CEAP applications for the 2017-2018 winter season and expect more applications in the coming weeks, especially as temperatures begin to drop. Homeowners and/or renters may apply, and funds may be used to pay for whatever source of heating residents have in their homes. This includes wood, electric, oil, kerosene, or natural gas.

CAAs will certify oil deliveries starting Wednesday, Nov. 15, for those who heat with oil, propane, and deliverable fuels. May 1, 2018, is the last day households can apply for benefits unless the household is utility heated and has a shut off notice for its primary source of heat. May 15, 2018 is the last day a utility heated household with a shut off notice for its primary source of heat can apply for benefits.

Another protection for Connecticut's struggling families is the utility moratorium, or winter hardship, which provides protection for eligible households against heat source shut-offs between November 1st and May 1st. Gas and electric utilities cannot be shut off (summer or winter) if lack of the utility creates a life-threatening situation. If a customer is having trouble paying their utility bills during the winter moratorium period, Community Action Agencies will work with them on affordable utility payment programs, including the Matching Payment Program (MPP) and Below Budget Payment Plans. MPP is a payment incentive program that allows eligible utility customers to maintain year-round electric and gas service and pay an agreed-upon amount each month to pay down the balance on their heating bill. If customers cannot afford the utility payment plan, CAAs work with the customer and can submit a Below Budget Payment Plan based on the household income and expenses.

A CEAP benefit to a household automatically makes that household eligible for weatherization services. So, in addition to heating assistance, CAAs will refer customers to those agencies providing weatherization services, which helps minimize energy-related costs and fuel usage in homes through retrofits and home improvement measures. Additionally, there are funds available this year through the CAA for heating system repair and replacement if such services are deemed necessary and as the amount of funds allocated allow. Lastly, when a customer comes to a CAA for energy assistance, the agency will also assist customers in accessing other benefits for which they may be eligible including SNAP and other food programs, financial counseling, child care, and case management.

Connecticut's poorest families struggle each and every year to heat their homes in this a state with one of the highest utility rates in the country; customers many times having to choose between heating and eating or heating and paying for their medicines. CEAP allows them to not only cover high home energy costs and keep warm during the cold winter months, but gives low-income families the opportunity to address other critical, basic needs, rather than having to choose between them. Any resident who needs help paying their heating bill this winter should contact their Community Action Agency immediately.

For more information on Connecticut's Energy Assistance Program, how to find your local CAA to apply, or to make a donation, visit www.cafca.org or contact the Connecticut Association for Community Action (CAFCA), 144 Clinton Street, New Britain, CT, 06053, 860-832-9438.

Our Companions Animal Rescue Launches Fundraising Challenge

ASHFORD — On Saturday, Oct. 7, Our Companions Animal Rescue celebrated its 15th anniversary and the construction of three new cottages for homeless animals at their sanctuary.

The new facilities, which will officially open in early 2018, will double the number of homeless cats and dogs that can be rescued and rehabilitated at the sanctuary. The sanctuary, which borders the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and is modeled after Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, was originally built on a 43-acre plot of land donated to the organization in 2002.

The sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the region, rehabilitates abused, neglected, and special‐needs homeless cats and dogs in a peaceful, home‐like environment. The first rescue cottage was opened in 2012. Two subsequent cottages were opened in 2013. In 2015, Our Companions also acquired four additional acres, increasing the Sanctuary's size to 47 acres. Upon completion of future phases, likely by 2024, the Sanctuary will ultimately contain 16 rescue cottages and house over 350 animals.

Our Companions also leases a 6,000 square foot facility in Manchester, the Valerie Friedman Program Center, where it operates many of its other life‐saving programs to include dog training, dog and cat behavioral support programs, feral cat management programs, adoptions and more.

Our Companions, which has 22 full and part time employees and over 400 volunteers, is funded entirely by donations. To ensure Our Companions has the resources to meet the ever‐growing demand for its services, and to support its expanded operations at the Sanctuary, Our Companions has launched the Our Companions 15th Anniversary Challenge. If Our Companions can raise $900,000 for their Annual Fund by December 31, a small group of generous donors will collectively donate $150,000 for Sanctuary operations.

To learn more about the Sanctuary expansion, the Challenge, or anything else related to Our Companions, contact Susan Linker at susanl@ourcompanions.org or 860-242-9999, ext. 301.

Babcock Library Membership Campaign

ASHFORD — The Friends of Babcock Library is conducting a membership drive. Membership categories range from $5 to $200. There are many ways to become involved, including attendance at meetings, bake sales, book sales, and fundraising events. Email friendsofbabcocklibrary@gmail.com for more information.

Library Membership Drive

WILLINGTON — The Friends of the Willington Public Library Membership Drive is ongoing. Community members can help the library by attending book sales, bake sales, volunteer, donate money or become a member. Membership costs range from $5 to $100. For more information, call 860-429-3854.

Men's Club Volunteers Needed

STAFFORD SPRINGS — Evergreen Health Care Center, 205 Chestnut Hill Road, is sponsoring a men's club for male residents this summer. If you have an interesting hobby, cool vintage car, custom motorcycle or even just the gift to gab, there are a lot of fun opportunities and staff welcome your new ideas. Contact Karen at 860-684-6341.

Al-Anon Meeting

STAFFORD SPRINGS — Al-Anon meetings will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursdays at the Stafford Senior Center, 3 Buckley Highway, Route 190.

Support Groups Available

STAFFORD SPRINGS — Three support groups, the Alternatives to Suicide Peer Support Group, a Men's Support Group, and a Women's Support Group, will take place at the First United Methodist Church, 8 Church St., the big white church next to CVS, unless otherwise noted.

The Men's Support Group meets at the church in Room 101 on Tuesday evenings at 4 p.m.

The Women's Support Group meets at 10:15 a.m. Wednesdays in Room 101. Both these groups are for anyone who's had a loss in their lives. All are welcome to attend.

The Alternatives to Suicide Peer Support Group meets from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, in Room 204.

The church can be reached at 860-684-2468, on Facebook or at its website, http://fumcstafford.org.

Stafford Early Head Start

STAFFORD — Stafford Early Head Start has openings available for children ages birth to three and pregnant mothers. The Early Head Start program is designed to promote school readiness for children by enhancing their developmental and social competence. Applications are available at the West Stafford School. Call 860-684-3181 to make an appointment to enroll.

Free Video Production Training Program

WINDHAM — Northeastern CT Community Access TV is now taking applications for its Free Public Access Internship program at 207 Tuckie Road. Interns get hands-on experience in all aspects of video production. They cover community events and public affairs shows for airing on Charter channel 192, Frontier channel 99, and on CTV192.com. Interns have the opportunity to use their new skills to produce their own Public Access Television Programs.

Internships are non-paid and are open on a first-come, first-served basis to residents in the studio's service area. Interns must reside in one of the following towns to be eligible for internship: Ashford, Brooklyn, Chaplin, Coventry, Canterbury, Columbia, Eastford, Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield, Pomfret, Scotland, Thompson, Windham, Woodstock, and Willington.

Visit CTV192.com or call the Community Access TV studio line at 860-456-8500 for an internship application and more information.

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