Vermont students help locals heat homes

Students and teachers in Vermont are getting together to help local families in need of home heating assistance.

In our recent posts, we've been highlighting the issue of home heating and how it's particularly affecting low-income families in the northern states. While much of the recent news has been about the expected cuts in federal funding, many news sources have been also been shining the spotlight on the everyday Americans who are banding together to help these homeowners gain much-needed relief.

For example, a reader from Vermont passed on a report from his local paper, the Addison County Independent, this morning. In the article, reporter Andrew Stein detailed how Tom Tailer, a high school teacher at Mount Abraham Union High School, has been working with local students to provide this relief to individuals in need since 2008.

Called the Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative (VSHI), the three-year-old program has since helped install nearly 20 stoves in low-income local homes and provided these individuals with low-cost pellets they can use for heat.

"Before winter even comes, in August or September, we start worrying about making it," April Parent, a Starksboro resident who hasn't been medically fit to hold a full-time job in roughly 10 years, the report says. "What are the heating bills going to run? What are the electric bills going to run? It’s really a struggle every year."

The program, which receives state funding to help individuals like Parent, typically receives  around $20,000 to $40,000 annually, but it may not be awarded these funds this year. However, Tailer is optimistic that his low-cost, successful model could gain clout with legislators.

But, since individuals may not always be able to rely on the kindness of strangers, they may benefit by turning to low-cost home heating cools such as humidifiers and electric heaters to better heat their homes.

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110 thoughts on “Vermont students help locals heat homes

  1. I had/have lots of second thtughos. Like quoting Che, though he is one of my heroes. But I think that we north americans need to consider the dark role that we have played in the politics of all the countries to the south of us. I think if you look at the history of US intervention and assassination of folks like Allende, you have to consider that the violence that we decry in the political movements of other countries, we export readily. It’s still happening today if you think about the use of US drone attacks in countries that we are not at war with. Maybe we simply are at war with anyone who opposes our economic policies, our transparent imperialism? Voters, non-voters, americans are spun by lies and misinformation spread so effectively by the flash and sizzle television, by Fox News, are distracted and misled by stuff like 24 and Lost. Meanwhile, even politically active folks like the group that reads here clings to a very badly flawed health care program like Obamacare as a step in the right direction as the republicans and plutocrats launch a very serious attack on Medicare, the most viable model for health care reform. If we can’t afford Medicare, if Medicare is going broke, then how would we get to Medicare for All? (question can we afford the war in Af-Pak-Iraqistan? does that question ever arise?)Don’t even get me started on the degradation of the environment, the free market commodification of the natural world (patents on living things?) and the impending disaster of global warming that is the price tag. Privatized profit and socialized loss. You want to oppose that? Remember that somebody is paying folks like Breitbart to smear the opponents of privatized profit and socialized loss. So how much difference is there really between an opportunist like Breitbart and an opportunist like Geitner? Real change, radical change, will require that the folks who want that change tolerate differences in tactics and opinions, the means to bring about change. We can argue about tactics, the militancy of those to our left. We can form circular firing squads when the occasional window gets broken by the black block, but we might be better served to remember that there are agent provocateurs at work in the black block as well as just dumb folks who want to break something as street theater. Money, big money, is speech in elections and can’t be limited, but political action and theater that breaks a hundred dollar window is a crime. Our justice system and courts are clear about these distinctions.

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