Jun. 11—For Cass County veterans in need of emergency help with utilities, there's a new program through the County Veterans Service Office.
Operation: Veterans' Utility Relief was started with a $2,500 donation from the Logansport Elks Lodge No. 66.
Veterans Service Officer Tamara Derrick said that the fund will operate similarly to the way the Emmaus Mission and churches in town work with Logansport Municipal Utilities.
They make pledges to paying back due utility bills.
"If we're told a veteran's in need, we will pledge to pay part of the utility bill," Derrick said. "At least that will save them from being cut off."
The veterans will need to contact the Veterans Service Office directly if they have need of the program.
The Elks received the money they donated through a grant from the Grand Lodge, the national level of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
The local lodge applied for the grant as an all-in-one shot, splitting it between the Veterans Service Office and the Emmaus Mission Center, which received $3,000, said Elks Treasurer Sue Hoch.
Hoch had also worked as the administrative assistant in the Veterans Service Office for 10 years before retiring March 1.
"I have seen firsthand the Cass County veterans that need help, that can't get it quickly," Hoch said.
The Elks also aid local veterans through holiday food baskets.
The club has a history of supporting "veterans and anyone in need," she said.
The check to start the utility relief fund came through in February, but the county had to create a non-reverting fund for the money through the County Council and the County Commissioners.
With a non-reverting fund, any unspent money would not revert to the county budget at year's end but stay put, and the commissioners approved the fund on Monday.
"We're ready to roll," Derrick said.
The money will likely be used in the hotter summer months and colder winter months, she said.
Many veterans are on a fixed income, so an emergency — like a broken water main — can cause a need.
Now that the Elks' donation has kicked off the fund, Derrick's office will look for more donations to keep it going.
"We're hoping we get the support from the community to continue this program," she said.
Hoch said that the Elks will likely apply for the grant from the national office again.
"I'm hoping this might become a yearly thing," she said.
She also believes that the community will also help.
When she worked in the Veterans Service Office, there were always veterans that wanted to help their fellow veterans.
"There are people out there that want to donate," she said.
Those who require the help the Operation: Veterans' Utility Relief fund will provide should contact the service office at 574-753-7700.
Derrick is also working on getting more information on it onto the Cass County Veterans Service Office webpage.
Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5117