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Alabama Project SHARE stories: Loretta Scott

When circumstances in life become overwhelming, you have to take the “p” off of pride and find somebody to help you ride and rise above them.

That’s the view of Loretta Scott, who has turned to Project SHARE when life’s crises made paying her energy bills almost impossible.

Over the years, Scott, 70, has survived ovarian cancer, a stroke and three tornadoes. The twisters in 2011 and 2015 destroyed her Birmingham-area homes and laid additional financial burdens on her shoulders. But Project SHARE became a true “lifeline” when she needed electricity to keep her son alive.

Scott’s son, Ronrecus, has a severe brain injury and kidney and heart disease. Beginning in 2009, he began requiring dialysis treatments at home – a situation that continued until he received a kidney transplant four years later.

Because of the amount of energy the dialysis machine used, Scott said her power bill skyrocketed, averaging about $2,000 a month.

“We couldn’t go without power or he would die. It was like oxygen,” said Scott. “The machine had to run 24 hours a day, so I had to find a solution.”

Loretta Scott shares her Project SHARE story from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Project SHARE was the solution that helped her manage that financial load, Scott said.

“It was heaven sent,” she said. “If Alabama Power hadn’t embraced me at that time, my child would have died. When you don’t have anybody to call on and Alabama Power is standing there with its arms open, it means everything.”

Managed by the Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham, Project SHARE is sponsored by Alabama Power in partnership with the state’s rural electric cooperatives. It provides emergency energy relief to low-income older and disabled people who need assistance with heating and cooling bills.

Donations from customers are collected by Alabama Power and the rural electric cooperatives. The funds are funneled to the Salvation Army, which works with community action agencies in 59 Alabama counties to administer the program.

“Project SHARE is a tremendous blessing to Alabama’s senior citizens and those with disabilities,” said Major Charles Powell, area commander of the Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham. “Thanks to the generosity of Alabamians who donate to Project SHARE, we are able to help pay utility bills for our most vulnerable neighbors. This program provides much more than financial assistance paying a bill; it helps people to live safely in their homes and provides hope and comfort to those facing a crisis. We are honored to partner with Alabama Power to administer this program statewide, and we are grateful for the continued community support that allows us to help those that need it the most.”

Project SHARE covers the cost of fuel sources, including electricity, gas, propane, kerosene and wood. Eligible Alabamians include those with limited income who are 60 and older or totally disabled. To qualify, they must be unemployed and face challenges in paying energy bills.

Since it was founded in 1983, Project SHARE has provided nearly $40 million in energy assistance to more than 385,000 families. Last year, about $441,690 was distributed to meet the energy needs of some 3,220 people in more than 2,100 households.

Giving back is easy

Alabama Power customers can help lighten the load for struggling neighbors by contributing to Project SHARE. They can pledge a monthly donation of $1, $2, $5, $10 or any other whole-dollar amount by checking the box on their utility bill.

Additionally, financial contributions can be mailed to the Salvation Army, 2015 26th Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35234. Designate “Project SHARE” on all checks. Or, call 205-328-2428.

Tequila Smith said Alabama Power is proud to lend a helping hand to families in need.

“Through our partnership with Project SHARE and our employees’ generosity, Alabama Power is one of the largest contributors to the program,” said Smith, president of the Alabama Power Foundation. “While more than 3,000 Alabamians receive support from Project SHARE each year, there are many more in need of assistance. I encourage others to consider donating so Project SHARE can continue to carry out its mission of helping people like the Scott family overcome adversity and set them on a path to success.”

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Scott, who retired from the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board in 2003, said she donated to Project SHARE throughout her career, never dreaming that she would need it one day.

“It’s not a handout, but a hand up,” Scott said. “If you get sick or are in crisis and can’t pay your light bill, Project SHARE can help you. Take advantage of anything you can that will help you become self-sustainable again.”

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To help spread the word about the program, Alabama NewsCenter is sharing stories of real people who have recently benefited from Project SHARE. This story originally appeared in Powergrams.