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November 2021

Helping Our Hoosiers In Need

What is Hoosier hospitality? Is it a kind gesture? The willingness to help others? Volunteering?

Hoosier hospitality is all of these and so much more. The vast majority of Hoosiers are genuine, down-to-earth people, and we’re proud to be recognized nationally and throughout the world for our kindness.

The holiday season is a great time for our Hoosier hospitality to really shine. By sharing our blessings, lending a helping hand, reaching out neighbors and volunteering, we can continue to live up to our reputation.

The gift of time is perhaps the most precious of all. For those looking for ideas to help others this holiday season, consider volunteering at a local nursing home, participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program, or helping at an area food pantry or soup kitchen.

We can also gift a tree to members of the United States Armed Forces through the Christmas Spirit Foundation or adopt a military family for the season through Operation Christmas Spirit. Help Hoosier children in need through the Salvation Army Angel Tree or Toys for Tots. Also, you can help homeless shelters in your area by donating food, clothing or supplies.

This year, we welcomed over 6,500 Afghan refugees into our state. Many of them arrived with only the clothing on their backs. The Indiana House of Representatives, through our Together We Care initiative, is collecting donations for refugees, many of which are children. Donation bins are located around the Statehouse. 

Hoosiers have a rich history of giving – whether it’s their time, money or other resources. Helping our neighbors in need is contagious and kindness can spread like wildfire. This holiday season and beyond, let’s show the world what Hoosier hospitality is all about.

Forever Homes For Children In Need

Every child deserves a committed and loving family to come home to. November is National Adoption Month, a time for Hoosiers to celebrate adoptive families, increase awareness and bring attention to the many Indiana children waiting for their forever homes.

Within the state, the demand for adoption is growing. According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, there are currently more than 1,200 children up for adoption. No child should have to wait even one additional day to join their future family and begin their new life.

To help streamline the adoption process, lawmakers passed a law this year to allow Hoosier families to file petitions to adopt in counties outside of where they live. The new law also adds more certainty to the adoption process by establishing clear guidelines for courts to follow when handling a contested case. These changes put the needs of the child first as the court considers a parent’s substance abuse, voluntary unemployment or unstable home environment.

To learn more about adoption in Indiana and to see the children waiting for a forever home in your area, click here or call 1-888-25ADOPT.

Help With Paying Heating Bills

As temperatures begin to drop, Hoosiers can expect utilities – especially heating costs –  to rise. Increased heating and electric bills can put Hoosiers in a tough spot financially, but thankfully help is available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The federally funded program is available to low-income families across Indiana to help offset heating costs during the winter months, and applications for the program are accepted through May 16, 2022, and can be found here. Temporary financial help with costs related to water utilities is also available, and applications for both programs can be made simultaneously. Those without internet access can call 211 and ask to be connected with a local energy assistance program provider. More details can be found here.

Indiana households making 60% or less than the state median income are eligible for financial assistance through LIHEAP. The funds are distributed by local service providers in regions across the state. A county-by-county list of the nearest service providers can be found here.

Many utility companies offer programs to help offset heating costs as well, such as Duke Energy’s Helping Hand or the Warm Heart, Warm Home Foundation through Citizens Energy Group. Resources such as these can be found here.

Hoosiers can also follow some cost-saving tips, like sealing windows or letting in natural light, that can help save energy during the winter months.

To learn more about help with utility costs during the winter heating season, click here.

Accelerating Hoosiers’ Careers

Hoosiers earning job certifications within a six-month timeframe can now turn to Accelerate Indiana to offset the cost of training.

Established by state legislators this year, Accelerate Indiana helps Hoosiers fast-track their careers by providing loans for short-term training programs in high-wage, high-demand jobs.

The loan amounts available range from $1,000 to $7,500 for those participating in approved job credential programs in industries related to advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and information technology and business services.

Participating students only have to repay the interest-free tuition assistance if they secure a higher-paying job using their new skills. If a participant’s income doesn’t increase or stays below $42,500 annually, they do not have to repay the loan.

As graduates earn more income, the revolving funds will help replenish the program.

Accelerate Indiana not only prevents Hoosiers from paying out of pocket or taking out federal loans for short-term credentialing, but also helps local employers address the labor shortage.

Through this initiative, educational institutions and training providers will be able to offer a new student-friendly funding option to prospective and enrolled students.

For an education program to be eligible, a credential must be able to be earned within six months. The programs are provided only by state-authorized colleges, universities, career training programs, technical schools and academies.

Only vetted training programs that demonstrate highly successful student outcomes may participate. Programs certified by Accelerate Indiana will be able to serve more prospective students through this new funding option.

To learn more about program eligibility or to apply for assistance, visit accelerateindiana.org.

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