Community Action News
November 2021

WCAC recently hosted the statewide kickoff for the home heating assistance program. It was our pleasure to welcome our colleagues from the community action network across the Commonwealth to launch a new statewide campaign intended to spread the word about available supports that this program offers. Did you know that in addition to helping with heating and utility bills, WCAC and our community action partners can also help to make homes more energy-efficient, replace and repair heating systems, and replace new appliances? This month's newsletter provides information about how to access the home heating assistance program, weatherization, and energy efficiency programs. Please help us spread the word to ensure every household that is struggling with home heating expenses gets the help they need. 
With predictions about escalating home heating oil expenses this winter and many families only just beginning to recover from the devastating economic impact of the COVID pandemic, we know the need for home heating assistance is tremendous. As of the end of October, WCAC had already received more than 7,000 applications and the program didn't officially open until November 1st!
On behalf of our incredibly hardworking staff, I ask for your patience as we work our way through the thousands of applications before us.
WCAC stands ready to support households from throughout Central Massachusetts who are struggling with high home heating expenses. I encourage anyone overwhelmed by expensive utility bills to reach out to our team for assistance and let us find a way to help you. We have many resources available to ensure local families are warm and safe this winter.
Marybeth Campbell, Executive Director
Heating Help 101
WCAC's home energy assistance program is part of a federal program known as LIHEAP - Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program - that helps low-income households address energy costs. In Massachusetts, the program is administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, in partnership with a network of local agencies made up of 22 community-based organizations, including 20 Community Action Agencies, the City of Cambridge, and the New England Farm Workers Council. Together, we have been able to help close to 160,000 households annually.
The program helps both homeowners and renters pay home heating bills, past due balances on utility bills, and making monthly payments. Financial assistance is available for income-eligible households to help pay home heating bills between November 1 – April 30 of each year. It is important to note that eligibility is based on the last four weeks of gross income for a household and that any additional stimulus funds or pandemic unemployment assistance funds do not count toward income.
There is a new online application now available for first time applicants (returning clients should have received recertification application via US mail). Completed applications and supporting documents can be returned to us by mail, emailed to or dropped off to the drop box located outside our main office, 2nd floor of the Denholm Building, 484 Main Street, Worcester. Additional information about eligibility and required documents for submission can be found on our website.
Please note: Given the volume of applications we receive it can take some time for your application to be processed. Please be patient. You can check the status of your application through our 24/7 automated phone system by calling 508-754-7281and follow the voice prompts. As of deadline for this notice, benefit levels for 2021-22 winter have not yet been released.
The home heating assistance program is crucial not only to help pay for the rising cost of heat during cold New England winters, but also to ensure public safety and health throughout the region. Recipients are also eligible for Energy Efficiency programs that help participating households stretch their heating dollars, including the Appliance Management Program (AMP), the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), as well as heating system repairs and replacements. WCAC has contracts with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the major local utility companies to install energy conservation measures in low-income homes throughout Central and Southern Worcester County. Each home receives an in-depth inspection by a certified energy auditor to assess conservation needs and the safety and efficiency of the primary heating system.

  • AMP: Appliance Management Program provides instant savings for eligible tenants and home owners of 1 to 4 family units; provides replacement of such appliances as light bulbs; refrigerator or freezer; washing machines; dehumidifier; and air conditioners. Some restrictions apply and eligibility criteria must be met.
  • WAP: Weatherization Assistance Program helps permanently reduce energy bills thru installation of insulation, weather-stripping and more, making your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer; full scale home energy conservation services are provided using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available.
  • HEARTWAP: Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program provides resources for emergency repairs, maintenance and replacement of heating systems Program is only for homeowners. If you are a tenant, your landlord is responsible for your heating system.

Restrictions apply and eligibility criteria must be met. For more information about these energy saving programs please email WCAC at
Profiles With Purpose is a series of periodic profiles of members of WCAC’s team, highlighting their unique purpose, connection and commitment to supporting the agency’s mission.

If you have ever had occasion to call or visit WCAC’s Fuel Assistance office, chances are good you have interacted with Jannelle Correa, Special Project Coordinator for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

A fourteen-year employee of WCAC, Jannelle is a lifelong resident of Worcester, and one of three siblings raised by her grandmother after her mother passed away when she was just nine years old. As soon as she was old enough to work, Jannelle began doing so to help her grandmother. She got her first summer job through WCAC’s YouthWorks program as an aide at Rainbow Childcare then a part time job at Memorial Hospital and eventually at a local nursing home which spurned interest in becoming a nurse. Always a hard worker, Jannelle at one point held three part-time jobs, intent on saving and budgeting to take her further.
A graduate of Doherty High School, she attended both Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College, before earning her LPN from David Fanning Trade. She worked overnight shifts at a local nursing home for more than a decade before taking a job at Worcester Public Schools’ Head Start program and becoming an active volunteer with the Oak Hill CDC.
Her volunteer work and commitment to community service within her neighborhood eventually led back to WCAC when she was recruited as a WCAC Board Member, having served on the Family Needs Committee for Worcester Community Connections (which at the time was a program of WCAC before launching itself into its own nonprofit entity.) She stepped off the Board when she was offered a position at the agency in the fuel department and has served with enthusiastic compassion and empathy ever since.
The program’s strict income guidelines and documentation requirements can be challenging, she notes, particularly for households who have never had to use the system before. “People are very proud or embarrassed and believe there are others more in need than them,” she said, adding that COVID made it extra challenging in not being able to meet with clients face-to-face and empathize with their situations.
“I just want to let others know that they are not alone in trying to figure things out in life,” she says. “Everyone has bad times. We’re here to help people pick themselves up and share tools to help them get through life.”

“I find great value in what I can give to someone else,” she said, “I can’t do everything, but I do as much as time allows. Here at WCAC, we are truly looking at the whole person – you are not just a number. Somedays clients love us, somedays clients hate us. Sometimes you want to cry at the volume of need – it can be overwhelming… but we’ll get through it… together.” Read complete profile here.

WCAC has welcomed many new members to our fuel assistance team to help handle the estimated 15,000 applications we anticipate receiving this season!

Please join us in welcoming Vicki, Victoria, Mary, Jackie, Ute, Judy and Maggie, seen here with WCAC's LIHEAP Manager Dianne. The addition of these members to Team WCAC brings with them the ability to speak nine additional languages to help us better serve our community!

Are you a client who's been helped by either the home heating assistance or weatherization programs? We'd love to hear from you! Please message us at There's nothing better than hearing directly from someone who's life has been positively impacted. Below you'll find testimonials we've received from clients recently helped, including Cathy D. of Worcester who received a new heating system.
"I want to thank you for everything -it's beautiful! The men - there were three of them - did a beautiful, beautiful job. I've got HEAT! I'm so happy! It's really, really nice. Thank you for doing this for us!"
Elsa & Nelson, Oxford, MA
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