E. Stroudsburg Provides Assistance
When the pandemic hit Monroe County, life changed considerably for the residents of East Stroudsburg. One of the biggest changes involved the closing of the local resorts, and the devastating unemployment which accompanied it.
“This is a tourist area - we have the resorts, the restaurants, the water parks,” said Heather Cleveland, case manager at The Salvation Army East Stroudsburg Corps. “Even in the green phase, businesses are only allowed 75 % capacity. If they are not opened at full capacity, I don’t think all of the employees will be called back or work the same number of hours they did before the pandemic.”
Heather has been a case manager with The Salvation Army for 26 years. Her job involves helping those in need of rental and utility assistance. Since the pandemic started, she has received calls from many new clients, those who never before needed financial help from The Salvation Army.
Requests for utility assistance have increased significantly. “The requests for water bill assistance have been nonstop,” Heather remarked. “Just this week, I’ve done six applications. Normally, we get maybe ten applications in a month.”
When the pandemic started, The Salvation Army received many calls asking for fuel assistance. Lillian Herman, 72, of Saylorsburg, PA, was one of those callers. “I turned to The Salvation Army for help because I am not too proud to ask,” Lillian said, with a hitch in her voice. “When you are my age, with very little money, asking for help is better than stealing what you need. People shouldn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul.”
Heather agrees. “So many people come to us for help with what should be the necessities: a roof over their heads, water to drink, cook and shower with, fuel to heat their homes with, and lights that turn on and off. It hurts my heart there are so many in our community who go without the basics simply because they fall on hard times.”
Heather recounted how The Salvation Army assisted Lillian. “When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ms. Herman came to me for help with kerosene to heat her house. We were able to put 150 gallons of kerosene in her tank. Knowing she had enough to keep her heat on during the cold nights filled me with pride in the work we do at The Salvation Army.”
“The Salvation Army wants to help people,” Lillian said. “Heather is a wonderful person who cares deeply for people. That lady does an awful lot and she doesn’t even realize the difference she has made in my life.”
Heather has not seen a large increase in requests for rental assistance. That may change soon. Pennsylvania has put in place a protective order forbidding foreclosures or evictions, which means residents cannot be forced out of their homes. However, if they don’t make payments on time, those amounts accrue along with late fees. When the protective order is lifted on July 10th, the full amount owed is due.
“Right now, it’s not that people aren’t worrying, but they are okay,” Heather commented. “I’ve had emails and calls from clients with concerns. Their landlord said come July, once this moratorium is lifted, he expects the full amount - every single month of their past due.”
During a typical year, The Salvation Army starts running out of funding for rental assistance around October. This year, with skyrocketing unemployment due to the pandemic, funding may run out much sooner.
Heather shared her concerns. “I’m really worried about what is going to happen when July 10th comes, and eviction notices are going up all over. That is my biggest fear right now. By the end of July, when the extra $600 weekly federal unemployment insurance runs out, it is going to be a complete mess and a shock to people, I’m sure.”
As the community begins the road to recovery, they can be assured The Salvation Army will walk with them every step of the way. The Salvation Army will always be in every community before, during, and after a crisis. The Salvation Army is here. Here. For Good. To give to The Salvation Army, please go to Here. For Good.