This past winter was especially cold. Recognizing that, along with knowing that people’s finances are strained due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rising inflation, a group of area aid organizations decided to collaborate on a campaign to offer home heating aid in late 2021.
Barnard Helping Hands, King’s Daughters, Plymouth Memory Tree, Bethany Mennonite Church, Ottauquechee Health Foundation and Woodstock Area Relief Fund combined their institutional and monetary strength to offer people grants to pay past or future heating bills. The process they developed helped people seek assistance through a centralized portal and, depending on location, applicants were matched with funds from different groups.
The project was a resounding success, with $101,000 worth of oil, propane, electricity, wood, and pellet bills paid for 94 applicants from Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock. Each organization listed above contributed money (raised in their communities) to applicants, many of whom reported feeling grateful for the community support and relieved that the burden of fuel costs were somewhat lifted.
In addition to the one-time monetary grants, the campaign also connected people interested in weatherizing their homes to Sustainable Woodstock. Plans are moving ahead to help people reduce future bills by upgrading and doing repairs on their houses.
The success of their effort shows the willingness of these partners to work together to build a collaborative community-wide system to support neighbors in need, as well as the need for just such a system to be in place.