Austin resident Lisa Marshall’s heat has been off since late September. At that time, the cold, blistering low temps were still months away. Unable to keep up with her bills, the mother of two teenage boys and one toddler is now enduring the cold winter climate. She and other Westsiders looking for heat assistance attended an energy-assistance fair at Malcolm X College Saturday.

The “Keep Warm Illinois” Winter Assistance Day at MXC, 1900 W. Van Buren on the West Side, was sponsored by the offices of Congressman Danny Davis and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The two elected leaders partnered in October to bring the energy-related event to areas around the state.

Representatives from ComEd, People’s Energy and CEDA were on hand to assist more than 1,000 residents who attended Saturday. Marshall came seeking assistance to get her heat turned on by her provider, People’s Energy.

It’s been even more difficult for Marshall, 39, because of her disability. She suffered a serious car accident in 2000 and still has lingering injuries.

She has been unable to pay her bills and signed up for assistance through the South Austin Coalition.

“I believe this winter is going to be as bad if not worse than last year,” Marshall said. “The great part about this is that for people like myself, this is a great help and benefit for us.”

Representatives from the various groups took questions from residents. Residents were also able to pay a portion of their heating bills, as well as receive or sign up for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a state- and federally-funded energy assistance program for low-income residents.

A number of workshops were available Saturday, including one on how to weatherize homes. Weatherization kits featuring light bulbs and window insulation strips were handed out.