By Mary Boyle
The holidays are a magical time, especially in Ozaukee County, where Norman Rockwell-like scenes can be found in just about every one of our adorable, main street communities. With so much to be thankful for, it's easy to forget that there is hardship, even in the land of Oz, and the holiday season can create additional stress on families who are already carrying too much of a burden. Colder temperatures and the holidays, themselves, translate into all sorts of financial stress. But this is the land of Oz, after all, and that means there is help.
Higher heating bills can be one of the greatest financial stresses on families this time of year, and too many families are unaware that there is help available for them through Energy Services for Ozaukee County simply by calling (262) 261-0020 for an appointment at the Family Enrichment Center at 885 Badger Circle, Suite 3, in Grafton. Many people think that just because they live in Ozaukee, they can't qualify for this type of assistance, but it's not that difficult to meet the income guidelines and to qualify for a grant or even home weatherization. All you need is to bring your most recent energy bill, the social security numbers for everyone in your household, a photo ID, and proof of your household income for the prior three months, such as payroll stubs, unemployment or child support printouts, social security benefit, or your most recent tax return.
Besides heat, food is the next greatest need of the season, and Ozaukee County happens to have two different food pantries to help:
The Family Sharing Food Pantry is located at 1002 Overland Court in Grafton and is open Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Tuesday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. beginning January 2nd. If you are coming to the food pantry for the first time you will need proof of residency in Ozaukee County (for example, a recent WE Energies bill with your address on it), your drivers license, and an insurance card or birth certificate for each child that lives with you. If you have additional questions, please call Robin at (262) 377-0634 X102.
The Saukville Community Food Pantry is located on the Lower Level of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ at 166 W. Dekora Street in Saukville, and the hours can be found here. Proof of Residency in Ozaukee County is required to obtain items from the food pantry, as well as a list of names and ages of the members of household and an estimate of monthly income at the time of application. St. Peter's also offers a free meal every 4th Saturday from Noon to 1 p.m. that is open to any resident in Ozaukee. For more information, contact Mark Gierach at 262-284-0588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nobody likes to ask for help (I get it—I've been there, myself!), but that's what it's there for, and you'll be so glad that you did. Make the call to see if you qualify and give yourself, and your family, a break. Right now you may need help but, in the future, you may be the one making the donation to help others, and that's what it's really about. Ozaukee County is consistently rated as one of the wealthiest in the State, and that means we should also be rated the kindest and most generous. Life can be tough—take care of each other.