Yarmouth's heating fuel fund needs a boost

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YARMOUTH — The fund that helps provide local households with heating fuel over the winter is nearly dry.

Joy Ahrens, a board member and volunteer with Yarmouth Cares About Neighbors, said heating oil prices are rising and families are still in need.

By this time last year, Hanselman said, YarmouthCAN helped about 24 households with heating fuel. This year, 35 families have received nearly $11,000 in assistance, she said.

The YarmouthCAN fuel fund doesn’t have the strict eligibility requirements that the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program does, she said.

“Sometimes LIHEAP has a two or three month waiting period and that’s not acceptable when there is an emergency,” she said. “We can provide people with about 100 gallons of fuel and while it isn’t very much, it helps.”

Johanna Hanselman, Freeport’s General Assistance Administrator, said Freeport and Yarmouth regionalized their general assistance programs a few years ago. She works with Ahrens and YarmouthCAN to help families in need of fuel.

“This organization is a great resource for people in the community,” Hanselman said. “Like Freeport Community Services, YarmouthCAN provides guidance to those in need. It is a tremendous organization that works with residents, businesses and clubs to offer assistance.”

“We help people who don’t qualify for state programs, but find it hard to make ends meet,” Hanselman said. “Even with unemployment benefits some people make too much for general assistance, but have no other resources available to them.”

She and Ahrens said YarmouthCAN is looking for donations to help people through the end of the heating season.

Ahrens said there is about $1,100 left in the fund which is enough to help two households.

“We are looking for any sort of help,” she said. “If neighbors collect $20 per household or book clubs or sewing groups gather donations, every little bit helps.”

Hanselman said donations will also help those who heat their hot water throughout the year.

“It’s nice to have a balance going into the next heating season,” Hanselman said. “As of now we anticipate a zero balance soon.”

Maine Marathon, Downeast Energy, individual residents, the high school Rotary Interact Club and local AMVETS, American Legion Auxiliary, and Lion and Lioness clubs have all contributed in the past, Hanselman said.  

A new YarmouthCAN website with an online donation option will be launched soon, and all donations are tax deductible, Ahrens said. Checks can be made out to Yarmouth Fuel Fund and mailed to Yarmouth Town Hall, 200 Main St., Yarmouth 04096, or to YarmouthCAN, P.O. Box 553, Yarmouth, ME 04096.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net