WILTON — Members of Franklin Area Ecumenical Ministry gathered Thursday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to honor two Western Maine Community Action employees who have served with them as “partners in ministry” over the past six years.

Tania Gage and Judith Frost from WMCA were acknowledged for their efforts working with Farmington area churches to provide emergency fuel assistance through the Franklin County Ecumenical Heating Fund.

On behalf of the ecumenical ministry, the Rev. Susan Crane presented 2010 Salt and Light Awards to Gage and Frost for their “partnership in the ministry … for your compassion and commitment to serving our neighbors in need by distributing fuel assistance through the Franklin County Ecumenical Heating Fund.”

“We are blessed,” Frost said. “There are other CAP (Community Action Program)  agencies that do what we do but they don’t have the resources provided by the heating fund.”

Six years ago individual churches struggled to meet the requests to fill oil tanks, Crane said. When one church received a request, the pastor would call around to other churches to see if they could contribute to meeting the need, but it took an entire day to do, she said.

Money from the state for this type of service was gone, but WMCA director Fen Fowler helped connect Gage and Frost who work with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program clients at WMCA to work with the churches, she said.

The first year, the churches put $5,000 in the ecumenical heating fund. Requests for oil assistance received by the churches are now funneled through Gage and Frost who manage the account and approve oil deliveries through local dealers.

“The days of filling tanks are long gone, but now we raise over $40,000 a year for the fund and dispense $40,000,” she said. “Deliveries are now only 50 to 100 gallons at a time.”

This week, the number of emergency oil requests surpassed the number for all of last year’s heating season. There is still about four and a half months to go, she said.

The partnership also provides benefits from WMCA as Gage and Frost are able to help clients find other programs and resources. They can also discern the need, something that the churches could not do.

The ecumenical group also applauded Fowler for allowing them to participate in dispensing the fund.

The Franklin Area Ecumenical Ministry consists of pastors and two lay persons from Farmington churches. St. Luke’s, formerly in Farmington but now in Wilton, continues as a member.

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The Rev. Susan Crane, middle, presented Judith Frost and Tania Gage with 2010 Salt and Light Awards on Thursday for their participation in the Franklin County Ecumenical Heating Fund.

Tania Gage and Judith Frost of Western Maine Community Action open presents and cards after receiving 2010 Salt and Light Awards on Thursday
for their participation in the Franklin County Ecumenical Heating Fund.

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