Thursday, September 15, 2016

Helping our neighbors get ready for the winter to come - By Rep. Mark Bryant

The days are getting shorter and colder, and winter is on its way. The cool fall weather may be a welcome relief, but it signifies the bitterly cold weather to come. It can be expensive to keep our homes warm here in Maine, where winter weather is especially brutal and many houses are old and drafty.
There are several resources out there to help Mainers afford to heat their homes. One of them, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, is a nonprofit that provides fuel assistance to Windham residents. I was proud to be part of the group that founded this organization in 2007, along with Sen. Bill Diamond and former Sen. Gary Plummer. The goal is to provide emergency one-time heating fuel assistance to any Windham citizen in need. Over the years, this program has had a strong record of success, helping hundreds of our Windham neighbors stay safe and comfortable during the harshest months of the year.

On September 30, the Sixth Annual Charity Gala and Auction will take place to benefit Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The event will be held in the St. Joseph’s College cafeteria, beginning with a silent auction and cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., followed by a live auction. We already have an impressive list of auction items! Please visit the website at or call me at 892-6591 to learn more about the event and other ways to contribute to the organization. important resource is the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, which helps with a portion of heating costs and is available to all Maine homeowners and renters who have a family income that falls below 150 percent of the poverty level. For example, a family of four with an annual income of $36,450 will qualify. The income guidelines are adjusted for families that include individuals who are especially vulnerable to cold weather, such as the elderly, a young child or those with certain medical conditions. The Opportunity Alliance overseas LIHEAP in our community, and they can be reached at 553-5900 or through email at

We can all save money on heating and energy costs by finding ways to keep the warm air in and cold air out of our homes. Efficiency Maine offers energy audits to help identify air leaks and suggest heating system upgrades and weatherization improvements. These small steps can save homeowners hundreds of dollars per year. Visit or call 1-866-376-2463 to schedule an audit. 

We cannot forget the other needs of our neighbors that become increasingly critical during the winter months. The Windham Clothes Closet is always accepting donations of hats, gloves, jackets and other winter clothes for those in need. They can be reached at 892-1906. Donations to the Windham Food Pantry are accepted Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 377 Gray Road. 

Wishing everyone an enjoyable fall season and best of luck preparing for the winter ahead.

As always, please feel free to send me a letter at 166 Albion Road in Windham, call me at 892-6591 or email anytime at

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