When a regional electric utility needed help administering programs for people who are having trouble paying their electric bills, the company turned to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown.
A team of four case managers at Catholic Charities works with those in need to award one-time grants or longer-term assistance with utility bills from PPL Electric Utilities. Since February, they have processed about 1,000 applications a month in the Allentown area.
Will Araya, a native of Chile, is supervisor of the team.
Front to back: Case managers Will Araya, Alberto Martinez, James Eppley and Nichole Peardon.
Catholic Charities has a great deal of expertise in providing assistance to people in need, he says, so the agency was a natural fit for PPL. The utility pays Catholic Charities to run the program.
Catholic Charities meets with applicants personally, or over the phone, or reviews on-line applications, and approves people for assistance based on certain income and family-size guidelines. The team provides services in English and Spanish.
Araya, a U.S. Army veteran who earned a degree in economics from the University of South Carolina, credits Divine Intervention with his hiring at Catholic Charities to run the program.
“I found a job in which I am able to help a large number of people,” he says, “and compared to my previous jobs, I have never been thanked so much.
“People in this area are very grateful for the assistance we are able to provide,” he says, “especially during these difficult times.”