While no deal has been reached to reopen the federal government, a number of businesses and other entities are offering furloughed employees assistance and even a few perks to make the shutdown more bearable.

Here’s a list:

  • Riverside Center for the Performing Arts is offering government employees who have been furloughed a complimentary show only ticket to “La Cage aux Folles” for Thursday (Jan. 24). They can get a ticket with government credentials or ID. Arrive for show at 7 p.m. For more information, call
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  • Michael & Son is offering furloughed federal employees up to 6 months of no payments on plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling repairs. “Our call center and financing department has been flooded with calls from area federal employees these last couple of weeks. We have customers who have been recently furloughed that can’t keep up with payments on their projects and have families to take care of. We’re telling them take care of your family first. We’ll worry about everything else after the shutdown. In the meantime, we also don’t want area residents neglecting the safety and comfort of their home’s so we came up with an offer that allows them to not have to make a payment up to 6 months for any of their service needs” said Basim Mansour, proud son and owner of Michael & Son.
  • Navy Federal Credit Union is offering loans to federal government employees and active duty service members of the Coast Guard whose pay is affected by the shutdown and have set up direct deposit of their pay. Loan amounts are calculated based on the amount of the most recent direct deposit of pay made prior to the interruption of pay. Loans have a 0 percent APR and are available up to a maximum loan amount of $6,000. Once direct deposit of pay resumes, the amount credited to account(s) will be automatically deducted as repayment.
  • The Free Lance–Star will defer subscription charges of government employees and contractors directly affected by the shutdown until the furlough is over and pay has been restored. Current subscribers who needs assistance should call the newspaper’s service center at 540/374-5002.
  • Fredericksburg City Schools is offering furloughed federal employees free lunch at all schools with their federal identification. Any furloughed federal employee interested in working as a substitute teacher is also invited to contact Allison Erickson at 540/372-1130.
  • Due to the shutdown, Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients received their benefits for February last Friday. That’s about two weeks early. “These are your February benefits, not extra benefits,” according to a message from the Fredericksburg Food Access Forum. “Plan and budget carefully so your food benefits last until the March benefit payment. Please visit DSS.Virginia.gov, call 855/635-4370 or contact your caseworker with questions.” It warned that the status of future benefits is unknown at this time, and organizations that interface with SNAP clients, including hospitals, health care providers, schools, grocery stores, farmers markets, emergency food pantries and churches should be aware of probable food insecurity impacts.
  • Weis Markets has accelerated store shipments of high-demand items purchased by customers who use SNAP benefits. “As a result of the shutdown, customers who use SNAP to purchase their groceries will receive their February benefits this week—essentially two to three weeks ahead of schedule,” said Kurt Schertle, Weis Markets’ Chief Operating Officer. “To meet this early demand, we have moved up our delivery schedules to ensure that we are in stock for our customers. We are doubly prepared for this increase in demand due to predictions of snow in many of our markets.”
  • Dominion Energy customers facing hardship during the government shutdown can call 866/366-4357 to explore payment and energy assistance options.
  • Rappahannock Electric Cooperative will work with members to address their circumstances, and offers them a variety of tools. These include checking their MyREC SmartHub account to see if they qualify for a payment extension. They can also call 800/552-3904 to speak to a member services representative or email the cooperative at mail us at office@myrec.coop.
  • Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative will not impose late fees and electric disconnections will be deferred during the duration of the shutdown for eligible federal employees who are directly affected. Customers can contact NOVEC customer service at 703/335-0500 or toll-free 888/335-0500, Monday–Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Atlantic Broadband is offering flexible payment options for government employee customers affected by the partial governmental shutdown. These include payment extensions and the adjustment of late fees to keep affected customers connected during the shutdown. “Our customer care teams will work with these customers to find a payment solution that works, as we always strive to do when our customers are in critical need,” said Courtney Long, vice president of customer care for Atlantic Broadband.
  • Break It Fredericksburg, a “rage room” at 4705 Plank Road, Suite 207, is offering a free, 5-minute session to furloughed government workers looking to find an outlet for their frustrations. The business offers a safe and controlled environment where participants can let loose and destroy stuff. A 5-minute session includes 10 breakables, six small and four medium-sized items. “Typically people come to let loose, but lately I’ve seen many come just to cope,” said owner said Monica May, owner of Break It Fredericksburg. “The local area is heavily populated with government workers, many who are furloughed, as things are getting harder to manage for families dealing with no income, I wanted to provide a way for them to let out their frustrations at no cost.” To book a session at Break It, visit breakit-fxbg.com or call 540/388-4844.
  • Airbnb has launched “A Night On Us,” a new program to support federal executive branch employees nationwide who share their home on Airbnb or provide an Airbnb Experience during the ongoing federal government shutdown. It will give $110 extra to any federal executive branch employee in Virginia who hosts either an experience or three nights in their home between now and March 18.

—Cathy Jett

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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