The Windham County Heat Fund – The Need Continues After 19 Years

Blog#176- 10/21/23

Richard Davis

If you live in the Northeast chances are pretty good you have been using oil, propane or wood to heat your home for a few weeks. There are some people that set a date for turning on their furnace and they suffer through until then, partly as a matter of principle and partly because of the cost of fuel.

Then there are those among us, a growing number, who struggle to heat their homes. They rely on federal and state fuel assistance programs which do not start until late November. The politics of that have always troubled me and politicians say they understand the timing is not realistic, but the allocation doesn’t happen until well after the need for heat starts.

This is where the Windham County Heat Fund comes in. We try to have a reserve of funds at the start of the heating season so we can fill that gap for people who rely on government fuel assistance to keep warm. Our busiest times are now until late November and near the end of the heating season when people have used up their fuel assistance allocations.

Daryl Pillsbury and I started the heat fund in 2005 and we incorporated as an IRS 501 C 3 non-profit in 2010. Over that time we have raised over $750,000 from the local community. The majority of the donations we receive are from individuals who are dedicated to the mission of our organization.

We don’t have a web site and we don’t do any mailing or any solicitations for funds other than a few letters to the editor every year. Daryl and I do not take any money for our efforts and that keeps administrative costs close to zero. Occasionally we have to buy office supplies or software, but those purchases are rare. We pay for postage out of our own pockets. This model works.

The heat fund does not give money to applicants. After a person sends us their application we review it and then give the money to the fuel dealers. The people who work at the fuel companies know their customers and are familiar with them in a way that social workers might be.

They help provide vetting of applications as well as do the human service workers in Windham County at places like SEVCA and HCRS.

Most years the heat fund helps about 100 individuals/ families and about 100 people donate. Many of the donors send their checks every year with little or no reminder and it is a testimonial to the generosity of our community. We have also been fortunate enough to have received funding from the Willard Trust, the Thomas Thompson Trust, local churches and businesses and a few donors who provide the same level of support as foundations.

Our fundraising goal is $50,000 a year and we hover right around that figure most years. Now is the time when we can put donations to good use so that the most vulnerable people in our community can fend off the cold until fuel assistance kicks in in another month.

Donations are tax deductible. Checks should be made out to the Windham County Heat Fund and can be sent to Richard Davis, 63 Cedar Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301. Donations can also be made directly to our account at the Brattleboro Savings and Loan.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Comments | 2

  • Fabulous

    You two do such a great job with almost no overhead (offices, salaries, etc.). I’ve heard the stories, too, of people completely SAVED by the fuel deliveries the Heat Fund has arranged.

    I suggest that a pair of young locals team up with you two and learn the ropes, to help carry on this work long into the future.

    I’ve put your annual ad back in rotation!

  • Thank you

    Richard, you and Daryl have been a blessing to so many. Please keep doing the great work you do. It’s more necessary as each year goes by.

Leave a Reply