To the editor:
I remember taking valentine cards every year to all my grammar school classmates. And every year now I give a lovely card to my wife asking her to be my valentine, often accompanied by a gift of some sort. But this year I’m working on a radical idea. What if, instead of asking someone or ones to be my valentine, I concentrated on being a valentine for another person? And, rather than my wife or my adult children, what if I tried to be an anonymous valentine for an unknown neighbor who really needs a valentine to help them in a really difficult circumstance?
CHIP (Community Housing Improvement Project Inc.) has been helping Midcoast people with housing issues make their homes safe, warm, and dry since 1984, when Ruth Ives reached out to a family of nine she found living under a pickup cap on her road in Bristol. This past year, thanks to many generous “valentines,” we spent $116,000 repairing 56 homes and $59,000 providing fuel for 256 homes. That was $175,000! We could do this because many churches, businesses, service organizations, and warm-hearted individuals cared beyond themselves and befriended CHIP with both small and large gifts. This year, with this long, cold winter and an increasing need for housing repair, we are going to need more funds so we can help more people.
I’ve been involved with nonprofit organizations my whole life and I’ve never seen any organization stretch their assistance further than CHIP does. How do we do it? With lots of volunteer help, especially on Community Cares Day in September, when a hundred or so volunteers fan out between Pemaquid and Waldoboro to work on carefully chosen projects. And our committed coordinator spends the rest of the year matching various volunteers with carefully chosen projects and stretching our precious dollars as far as they will stretch. And, when necessary, she calls on professional roofers, plumbers, etc. We have no office and our “overhead” is one modest part-time salary and brochures, mailings, and incidentals.
So instead of looking for a Valentine, I invite you to join me in being a valentine by sending a gift to CHIP Inc., P.O. Box 6, Newcastle, ME 04553. We promise your gift will make a real difference for a neighbor in need. Thank you very much.
Rev. David Ray, Bristol
For the CHIP Inc. Board of Directors