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Terry Geigenack, the assistant director of client services for Westport's Department of Human Services, sees families in need of a little help as a regular part of her job. So it wasn't any surprise that she was more than happy to advocate for an $800,000 grant to do just that from the Coastal United Way.

“It's primarily a chance to give a family a chance to catch up and keep their homes,” said Geigenack. She had just finished presenting the grant to the Board of Selectmen along with Tom Green, the Director of Appropriations for the Coastal United Way.

The grant won't save everybody from financial crisis, but Geigenack estimated that six to eight families would be able to benefit. She knew of a few that would likely be good candidates but said the funds were certainly not already predestined. Anyone who thinks they have a good case for needing the money can contact the Department of Human Services and schedule an appointment to discuss it.

Geigenack said the grant largely buys time to avoid things like foreclosure. The funds must be spent by Dec. 31, 2010, but she suspects interest and need will peak in the fall. That is when people start looking for heating assistance, which is also covered under the grant.

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