Salvation Army can help Northfield, Bernardston residents with emergency expenses

  • Hayley Bolton, director of the Bernardston Senior Center, with vouchers for the Salvation Army Service Unit Purchase Program. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/24/2021 4:01:34 PM

Northfield and Bernardston residents can receive help covering the costs of immediate living needs, such as utilities, clothing, food and shelter, thanks to a new partnership with the Salvation Army.

Residents of the two towns will now be eligible to participate in the Salvation Army Service Unit Purchase Program that provides vouchers as a lifeline for those who need help with emergency expenses. And the program is open to all, not just seniors, Bernardston Senior Center Director Hayley Bolton said. She met with Salvation Army Western/Central Massachusetts Field Representative Marc Massey, and Northfield Senior Center Director Colleen Letourneau about the program in October.

“One of the things we touched base on is how COVID has impacted our area, and with winter approaching, we’re concerned there could be a great need in the community this year,” Bolton said.

She encourages residents to take advantage of the program. One of the best things about the program, she said, is “it’s not very invasive” and does not require residents to share private information to prove their eligibility.

Massey said the Service Unit Purchase Program has been run by the Salvation Army for years. However, the partnership with the Salvation Army is relatively new for Northfield and Bernardston residents, so people may not be aware that it’s an option. Other Franklin County towns that use the program are Turners Falls and Shelburne Falls.

“We operate on immediate needs, which are basically clothing, food and shelter,” Massey noted.

Bolton will serve as the liaison between the Salvation Army and Bernardston residents in need. To inquire about the voucher program, Bernardston residents should call the Bernardston Senior Center’s main phone line: 413-648-5413.

Letourneau will serve as the liaison for Northfield. Residents from Northfield who seek to use the program should call the Northfield Senior Center at 413-498-2901, ext. 114.

The program does not provide funds directly to the person in need, but rather it pays the person or company providing the needed service.

“Say you’ve run out of money and your propane tank needs to be filled, you can call Hayley and she will be able to write a quick voucher to the deliverer,” Massey explained. “The principal behind it is like a check, promising to the vendor we will pay x-amount of dollars.”

He said the Salvation Army has a list of local companies that will accept Service Unit Purchase Program vouchers. In addition to his example of utility assistance, he said the program can also help with costs for groceries, some people may be eligible for rent assistance, and they refer people in need of clothing to local Salvation Army stores.

“We will take anybody in need,” Massey said. “At the end of the day, we may not be able to provide exactly what they need, but we will try to refer them to the proper agencies that can provide what they would need.”

As the Western/Central Massachusetts field representative, Massey works with local organizations and Salvation Army corps in Western Massachusetts and parts of Worcester County. A veteran himself, Massey said he also works with the Salvation Army to  assist veterans, and is a member of the Central Massachusetts Veterans’ Coalition.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

An earlier version of this article included incorrect contact information for Northfield residents interested in using the Salvation Army Service Unit Purchase Program. Northfield residents may contact Northfield Senior Center Director Colleen Letourneau, Northfield’s liaison for the Salvation Army, at 413-498-2901, ext. 114, to inquire about the voucher program.




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