With the new year comes challenges for some Windsor residents to pay their bills and keep their heads above water.
For many years, a nonprofit organization in town called Stepping Stones of Windsor has provided financial assistance to residents in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District who face eviction or utility shutoff.
Soup lunches or soup suppers at local churches are the major source of funding for Stepping Stones during the year, and the first one will be held sometime in February.
For example, during one of the soup suppers last year at Timberline Church in Windsor, an evening of service followed the supper. Soup was provided by Austin’s Homestead, Okole Maluna Hawaiian Grill and Simply Thai. Also offered at the soup supper was salad, bread, desserts and beverages courtesy of Timberline Church. A free-will offering was also included.
Soup lunches and soup suppers are the major source of funding for Stepping Stones. All the soups are donated by local restaurants. Anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 have been collected during the events.
“We get a pretty good response for those soup suppers and soup lunches,” Stepping Stones board member Janet Deason said. “We did really well at the one in November, and we’re going to have another one come up in February and a second one in April.”
The board of directors at Stepping Stones hasn’t come out with the number of clients they assisted in 2013, but in 2012 Stepping Stones assisted 79 clients with more than $25,000 for rental or utility needs.
“I don’t know the exact number, but I think it’s at least that many,” said board member Eldon Schmidt of the number of clients assisted in 2013.
The $25,000 exceeded the funding Stepping Stones received from grants for 2012. Included in the families were 95 children under 18, three senior citizens, six veterans and 19 households dealing with domestic violence.
According to Stepping Stones, when people apply for assistance to Stepping Stones, they provide evidence of impending eviction or utility shutoff. Stepping Stones’ guidelines allows assistance up to a total of $450 to $550 depending on family size, and the money is paid directly to the rental agency or utility company and not to the people applying for assistance.
Clients are not eligible for additional assistance for one year from the date they received assistance once the maximum allotment has been reached.
Deason said she receives a lot of satisfaction in helping others.
“Normally, I work with rescuing animals, and so I like the fact that I’m helping to rescue families,” Deason said.
Schmidt, who retired as the pastor in August 2011 after 18 years at Faith United Church of Christ in Windsor, saw firsthand how people in Windsor were hurting due to the Windsor Food Pantry being housed at the church. He said it’s not a surprise to him as to the number of people who need assistance, but he said it would probably surprise a lot of Windsor residents.
“They’re out there,” he said of those needing help.
Stepping Stones receives funds from personal donations, donations from churches, businesses and some government grant assistance.
The Town of Windsor has helped Stepping Stones with funds in the past. Donations can be mailed to: Stepping Stones of Windsor, P.O. Box 105, Windsor, CO 80550, and all donations are tax deductible.
“Based on my faith beliefs, we have a responsibility to care for those who need help,” Schmidt said. “We also have a responsibilty to be good stewards of the resources and make sure that we’re doing the best job we can, and not duplicating efforts or allowing people to abuse the system, It’s a combination of helping and good stewardship. There are some real stories. Many people are hit with multiple crisis in a short period of time, and they are just simply in over their heads and need help in usually getting through for an unlimited amount of time.”