The winter of 2011-2012 was another challenging one. The cost of heating oil remained high, staying well over $3.50 a gallon throughout the winter. Combined with the economic downturn it was not surprising that the need for heating assistance remained high. Some 165 households were served from mid-December through April 2012, consisting of 450 people. Over 100 of the families were seeking help for the first time. This was only slightly less than the prior year when 193 households were helped, consisting of 382 individuals. Through enabling people stay in their homes, Warm Thy Neighbor is a simple and cost effective way to fulfill Tedford Housing’s primary mission- the prevention of homelessness.
Tedford is pleased that Warm Thy Neighbor continues to be a strong program. This continuing strength is due to the donors, who have continued to support the program. It is a truly remarkable community resource, a vital component of the network of support in the mid-coast area. Community support has been crucial, especially during these first years of transition from when Sallie Smith ran it to being run as a service of Tedford Housing.
We have been fortunate that Tina Sanders, the Tedford homeless prevention coordinator is excellent. She is organized and efficient. Most importantly, she loves her work and the people that Warm Thy Neighbor assists. They love her in return. She is an excellent successor to Sallie Smith as the face of Warm Thy Neighbor. One of the clients wrote: “I do not know what I would have without the help. It is the first time I have ever asked for anything. You were so nice”
This summer Tedford Housing convened an advisory group to assure that the other aspects of the program run smoothly. Communicating with our communities is an important part of this. The group is made up of Sallie Smith, Bob Beaumont, Bill Bliss, Ed Bradley, Maria Hinteregger and Doug Morrell. They have provided considerable insight into the over-all aspects of Warm Thy Neighbor. They have also given the Tedford staff excellent guidance as to how Warm Thy Neighbor is currently perceived and ideas for improvement.
We hope to have an even better season in 2012-2013. This letter is part of our effort to communicate better. We also hope to use more volunteers, and to raise more money, both of which will enable us to more fully respond to the need in the community and serve more people.
We are grateful to Sallie Smith who saw the need, conceived of Warm Thy Neighbor and brought it to life. Without her there would be many more cold homes in the area. We are excited about being able to continue her work. And we are excited at how perfectly it meshes with the mission of Tedford Housing.
There will be a fund drive for Warm Thy Neighbor in the winter of 2012-13 and we hope that our community of supporters will continue its generosity.
Craig A. Phillips
A post script from Sallie: “I am so excited about the new energy and direction that is with Warm Thy Neighbor…”