In FY 2019, AIO issued 625 energy assistance vouchers totaling $168,000

AIO Food, Energy Assistance hires Rhonda Nordstrom

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 9:00am

ROCKLAND — AIO Food and Energy Assistance has hired Rhonda Nordstrom as its new Energy Assistance Program Manager, a role essential to providing Knox Country families with heating assistance support in times when budgets are tight and they need extra help staying warm, according to AIO, in a news release.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Rhonda join AIO at this critical time,” said Liz Jenkins, AIO Board president, in the release. “AIO’s mission to address food and energy insecurity are at an all-time high priority due to the impact of COVID-19 in the region. Rhonda’s commitment to our community and helping our neighbors be warm and safe, along with her experience as a small business owner will bring life and structure to this essential program. We are thrilled to have her lead the program.”

AIO’s Energy Assistance Program provides clients with an opportunity to request assistance with energy utilities during the winter months. AIO works directly with utility vendors who accept AIO vouchers for payment assistance for heating oil, kerosene, or propane. Assistance is typically for up to 100 gallons per year, per family. This program runs from November through March. AIO may also be able to help with assistance to prevent electricity disconnection (up to $200 per year).

Clients must live in Knox County and vendors must have a physical presence in Knox County. In FY 2019, AIO issued 625 energy assistance vouchers totaling $168,000 in support and was administrated entirely by volunteers, according to AIO.

“Plans to grow this important program, led AIO’s board to recognize the importance of having a dedicated staff member to help oversee it,” said the nonprofit.

As the AIO Energy Assistance Manager, Nordstrom will liaise with participating fuel companies and churches and build new relationships where possible. She will also be instrumental in setting up physical and digital systems as AIO moves into its new facility.

Nordstrom will lead and work along-side the dedicated team of volunteers who interface directly with the clients.

Nordstrom brings the 16 years of experience running Rheal Day Spa which she founded in 2002 after returning to her native home of Rockland. That business was sold in 2018, however she maintains an ecommerce business, Rheal Skincare, out of her home in South Thomaston where she lives with her husband, Bob, and their beloved dog, Daisy.

“Connection to community was always important to me personally and I knew it had to be a priority for my business to give back to that community,” said Nordstrom. “I started an ostensibly beauty-related business, and quickly learned the importance of helping women and girls overcome self-esteem issues. Often lack of money and worry about providing for their children and grandchildren entered our conversations. Volunteering on AIO’s Energy Assistance team opened my eyes to the fact that there is little disparity between a child going to bed hungry or waking up to a cold house. I look forward to playing a bigger role in helping children and families of Knox County be warm during cold Maine winters.”

Nordstrom begins her journey as the new program manager as AIO’s new 3,800 square foot building opens in September. Along with a larger and more efficient food market, a larger client waiting room, and a private intake office, the new building will also have consultation offices for the Energy Assistance program, affording more privacy for the clients and efficiency for the staff. These efficiencies will allow AIO to provide More Energy, More Often to anyone in Knox County who needs its support.

Nordstrom can be contacted at energyassistance@aiofoodpantry.org.

To learn more about AIO’s programs, modified operations, and the new building project, please visit www.aiofoodpantry.org