Opinion

Look out for each other as the weather gets colder

I, like any good County resident, have a love for snow in my veins. Enduring the winter here bonds us, creates a stronger community and makes summer that much sweeter. County folk are proud to be self-reliant, independent people; people who don’t think twice about a winter storm.

  But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that winter can be dangerous. Dangerous, not only because of the icy roads and freezing temperatures, but also because of the sudden spike in the cost of living. The drop in temperature means it costs more to heat your home. The shorter days mean higher energy bills. For families, seniors and those on a fixed income, these added costs can be challenging. It might mean they can’t afford to heat their homes, keep their lights on, or pay for their groceries.

  We need to look out for our neighbors, our parents, and others who may need an extra hand this winter. Thankfully, there are many organizations in The County that are ready and willing to help those in need, even if only for a one-time boost in an emergency situation.

  As always, if you or your loved ones ever need assistance and you don’t know where to go, call United Way’s hotline at 2-1-1. Trained professionals can direct you to the right resource or organization, whether you are in a crisis situation or not.

  The Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) can provide home energy assistance and emergency fuel delivery. You can reach them at 1-800-432-7881, or go to www.acap-me.org for more information.

  We all need to watch out for our elderly neighbors, because many are on fixed incomes. Aroostook Agency on Aging is dedicated to supporting elderly people in The County, with transportation to doctor visits, or help with keeping their heat on. You can reach them at www.aroostookaging.org, or call them at 764-3396 or 1-800-439-1789. The Aroostook Agency on Aging also has a guide on how to get help with potential winterization needs for seniors.

  The need to have accessible food does not dissipate when winter comes around. The Aroostook County Food Resource Guide provides information on community meals, soup kitchens and food pantries, including which days and what times the food pantries are open. 

  The Maine State Housing Authority offers MaineHousing’s Weatherization Program to help low-income homeowners and renters decrease their energy costs by improving the energy efficiency of their home. If you already qualify for Home Energy Assistance through ACAP, then you are automatically considered to be eligible for MaineHousing’s Weatherization Program.

  Finally, in case of a severe lack of housing emergency, please contact the Homeless Services of Aroostook based in Presque Isle. To access emergency shelter, call 764-4125, and for information on transitional housing, call 762-6000.

  Ultimately, as we head into the winter months, we need to look out for each other and make sure people know there are resources available to those who need heating, energy and food assistance. No one should go cold or hungry this season: Please help spread the word about these resources.

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