Help available for buttoning up homes for winter

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Food, clothing and shelter are three of life's most important necessities.

The McCook Pantry and the community suppers at Memorial United Methodist both do a yoeman's job helping meet the first must-have, this week's Coat Closet event helps meet the second, and several public and private systems, such as Habitat for Humanity, are in place to meet the third.

While they may have some type of shelter, many people, especially low-income, elderly and children, are living in substandard housing, difficult to heat or cool and even dangerous.

That's where the Weatherization Assistance Program, administered by Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska, comes in.

Today's National Weatherization Day is a good reminder to get our homes ready for the bitter cold and howling winds we know will arrive in the next few months.

The Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska -- Mid -- has served 27 counties in south central Nebraska since 1979, weatherizing more than 11,000 homes as part of a national effort that has reached more than 6.7 million households.

For every $1 invested in the program, they say, $2.10 is returned to the household and society.

Conservatively, estimated savings from 1979 to 2012 years total $101.2 million in our region. About $4.4 million in new savings accrue annually. This program is making an essential difference for families and seniors in need.

"Thank you for selecting me to be a participant in your Weatherization Assistance Program this year. It has only been a couple of weeks since completion and already my home is cozier. What you have done for me is a great deal more than I could every do for myself on my Social Security," one area Weatherization customer said.

Weatherization crews provide services we all should be thinking about as Nov. 1 approaches.

Qualified participants can receive weatherization measures such as:

* furnace and water heater inspection (if found unsafe, they can be repaired or replaced)

* adding insulation in attics, sidewalls, and crawl spaces

* attic ventilation

* insulating water heaters and water pipes

* weather-stripping and caulking around doors, windows, and general heat waste areas

* repairing broken windows and doors (possibly replacing doors and windows, if determined cost effective by the National Energy Audit)

Qualifying for the Weatherization Program is based on gross income. Applications are taken by Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska's Community Service Coordinators.

A listing including office locations is available at: http://www.communityactionmidne.com/communityservices.html.

For further information about the program, please call (877) 335-6422, (308) 865-5675.

Even homes that are cozy still need to have heat bills paid, and toward that end the annual "Share the Heat" soup meal is set Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Community Building on the Red Willow County Fairgrounds.

Cost is a free will donation, which will be matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

During the past winter 26 households were helped by the Share the Heat program, $5,699 was used to pay natural gas and propane bills. Since March 3, 2009, when this account was established, 132 checks averaging $219 have been issued.

If you'd prefer, you could also mail a donation to Share the Heat, Warren Everts, 611 W. Fifth, McCook, NE 69001.

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