As we mentioned in last week’s editorial, keeping Mainers warm is on the minds of all of the candidates for legislative office. It’s at the forefront of the minds behind The Community Energy Fund of Lincoln County.
Launched in 2005 by community members wanting to help neighbors, the fund directs heating resources to those who need it in Lincoln County, especially those who do not necessarily qualify for state or federal assistance programs. Every dollar the nonprofit generates goes right back out the door, purchasing heating oil, kerosene, electricity, propane, or wood.
With the price of everything going up, however, the organization’s board is worried about how far its funds will stretch this upcoming winter.
“We are thankful to everybody who helped us get through these years, but we are fearful we are not going to make it through this because of the fuel prices,” Todd Maurer, one of the founders, said. “We are going into a very difficult year and you look at the numbers … it’s purely driven off the high costs of oil, propane, you name it.”
The organization is already taking steps to prepare. The board will meet more frequently – every three to four weeks – to check in with how things are going, Maurer said. Members of The Community Energy Fund of Lincoln County are speaking to cornerstones in the community, trying to raise additional funds to help it carry through the winter, making sure everyone who needs it gets the assistance they need.
“We do not want to say ‘I’m sorry we do not have any more funds,’ because we are usually that resort of last, as they say,” Maurer said.
This could especially come into play in January and February, when tanks need a full fill-up. Maurer recalled a recent conversation in which someone told him they recently purchased 42 gallons for over $300. If prices get higher, the fear of not being able to help could become reality.
“The real bottom line is are we going to have enough money to make it through the season?” Maurer said.
Money is incredibly tight right now, we know. But any amount of money can make a difference. Maurer has taken everything from a $5 check, which, according to the governor’s energy office, could easily cover a gallon of propane or almost cover a gallon of heating oil. To put that in perspective, if half of Lincoln County’s residents sent in $5 each, the fund could raise close to $90,000.
If the ads on TV are anything to go by, the holiday shopping season is practically upon us. While making your gift list this year, consider donating to The Community Energy Fund. It’s a present that will be deeply appreciated, possibly by someone you know.
In the meantime, we all have a role to play to help keep all safe. Check on your neighbors and make sure they are doing OK, especially during cold periods.
For more information about the fund, go to communityenergyfund.com. Donations can be sent to The Community Energy Fund at P.O. Box 40, Bristol, ME 04539.