By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Louise Bergeron has spent almost two decades helping people stay warm.
The longtime energy director at Southern New Hampshire Services said goodbye to her job last week, retiring after being at the helm since 1995.
The Derry woman has led the fuel assistance program in Rockingham and Hillsborough counties.
Under her leadership, the fuel assistance program has disbursed $103 million in federal aid to approximately 179,000 eligible households.
“In short, helping people keep warm during winter,” said Phil Grandmaison, Southern New Hampshire Services’ special projects coordinator.
He said Bergeron has had an incalculable impact on many vulnerable lives, giving aid and helping families find the resources they need when they are struggling.
For Bergeron, it’s been a job she loved,
“I did enjoy my work,” she said.
Bergeron said she took a chance when she applied for the community action job.
“I was looking for something different,” she said. “I learned so much and met wonderful people.”
Bergeron is proud that she not only helped countless people, but also was able to speak to communities and groups about the positive things a community action program can do.
SNHS executive director Gale Hennessy and program operations director Deborah Gosselin have both served with Bergeron during her tenure.
The women said in a joint statement that Bergeron has almost 19 years helping people pay their energy bills.
“She has mobilized federal, local and private funding so that tens of thousands of Hillsborough and Rockingham County families could pay their energy bills for both heat and power,” the statement said. “Due to Louise’s leadership, these same families have kept ‘safe, warm and secure’ while still be able to feed, clothe and educate themselves.”
Hennessy and Gosselin called Bergeron a “true champion” for all the vulnerable people served by Southern New Hampshire Services.
“We will sorely miss her strength, vision and commitment,” they said.
Bergeron said she is looking forward to spending more time in the North Country, closer to her children and grandchildren.