CONWAY — An anonymous donor has given the town $125 and a decorated artificial Christmas tree to send to a family in need.
Selectmen voted 5-0 to accept the money.
The town’s general assistance officer, BJ Parker, told selectmen said it came from a man the town has assisted, who subsequently paid back “every dime” he received from the town.
“He sent me a message saying he was leaving money, initially it was $100, and he wanted me to give it to a family that was in need,” Parker said Dec. 8. “I said I would, and he came in yesterday with another $25 and a 7- foot Christmas tree to give it to somebody in need.”
Parker said the man said she taught him about being kind. The man also asked her not to count his donation against the benefits such a family receives from the town.
Parker said she has contacted social workers, including Mandy McDonald at SAU 9, to see if they have a family in mind.
Selectman John Colbath also suggested reaching out to Vaughan Community Service as well.
“I wanted to be here to show you that people on welfare are not always people who should be judged,” said Parker.
Colbath replied that was understood and he sent his “kudos and thanks” to the donor.
“It’s very much appreciated,” he said.
Town Manager Tom Holmes’ proposed welfare budget, passed by selectmen and submitted to the municipal budget committee, last week is $95,675. Town officials will be working on the budget until spring. Residents vote on it in April.
The 2020 general assistance budget was $103,787.
Holmes in an email to the Sun Thursday explained why the welfare budget doesn’t need to be increased.
“First, the economy was very good prior to 2020 and everybody who could work had a job or could get a job,” said Holmes. “Second, because of other sources like fuel assistance and food stamps (and local food pantries, bless them), the primary demand on BJ’s budget has been for housing.
“As you know, available housing has been practically non-existent, and so we have been unable to grant funds to eligible people. Also, if they were to find a place to live, they have to demonstrate that they would be able to meet their rental obligations longer term,” Holmes said.
He described town assistance as a “last resort,” given when all other forms of emergency assistance are exhausted. He also said there is a work requirement for able-bodied people and that people who need long-term help are to transition to other programs like Social Security Disability Insurance.
On Monday, Parker said the tree and the money were distributed to a family in need.