Chattanooga Gas phone-a-thon volunteer retires after 10 years
For ten years Channel 3 and the Chattanooga Gas company has collaborated to keep families safe and informed about resources available when it comes to heating during the winter months.
When you call in, a friendly volunteer greets you and there's one person that has given her time at every single phone bank since we started in 2008.
Jacqueline Westfield is one of the friendly voices eager to help the Tennessee Valley. She has been answering phones at Channel 3's phone-a-thon with Chattanooga Gas for ten years.
After this phone bank, she plans to retire after a long career of giving back.
"My whole goal my working career has been to lend a helping hand to someone," Westfield said.
She's done this by linking people to resources available for energy assistance programs. "Our volunteers and our partner agencies are providing information to customers, helping them with their energy bills and also weatherization," said Wendell Dallas, the VP of Operations at Chattanooga Gas.
During every newscast, people in the community can call to learn about the process of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
A federal grant funds 100% of the program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Money is available for applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Income levels must not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level. Customers who are interested in applying for LIHEAP can click here to learn more about eligibility requirements.
On November 28th customers can call (423) 266-5483 to speak directly with Chattanooga Gas employees and volunteers. The phone lines will remain open from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. for Tennessee residents to ask questions about the qualifications for receiving one-time assistance with heating costs.
"Whether it's through social media or other avenues, we're going to make sure we do everything we possibly can to make sure they get to these funds," Dallas said.
The help is out there and over the last decade, Westfield has been the link for many people.
"I do remember particular, a gentleman that was on dialysis and didn't know about the program and how he could get assistance," she recalled.
She knows she may never meet the people on the other line, but she knows getting this information out to more people is making a difference.
"Once the phone bank has taken place, we do have more people calling into the agency seeking assistance," Westfield said.
She is not sure what she will do in retirement, but she knows what she will miss the most about the phone-a-thon.
"Oh, I'll miss talking to people in different areas and different people where they are," she said.
Residents interested in other heating assistance programs should call Bradley-Cleveland Community Services at 423-479-4111 or Hamilton County Social Services at 423-757-5541. For more information about energy assistance, visit Chattanooga Gas online.