Challenging Winter for Getting and Giving Heating Assistance 

For many in Maine, heating assistance is something they rely on.

This winter has been one that has been extremely challenging for those who need help, and those who give it.

“It was either food for my kids, or heat,” said Corinth resident, Bobbie Stuart.

Stuart was faced with a choice that is a sad reality for many Mainers.

“I hate asking for help, but I needed it.”

After trying a number of different resources, like local churches, Stuart turned to her local community action program.

“I knew they helped people with fuel assistance. And, I didn’t have any help. So, I called Penquis and the same day, they got me a hundred gallons.”

The Low Income Heating Assistance Program has been helping Maine residents pay to heat their homes for decades now.  Stuart was able to receive help through their emergency budget, their Good Neighbor Program.

Penquis LIHEAP Manager Barbara Stone says they helped around 58,000 in Penobscot, Piscatiquis, and Knox Counties last year.

She says they’ve just added four to their staff, a needed relief.

“It’s been a little overwhelming the past few months with the temperatures being the way they’ve been. We’ve seen a lot of folks calling into the office and of course calling and wondering where their fuel assistance benefit is,” said Stone.

Stone wants the public to know they have eight weeks to approve applications and they are working diligently to get to everyone.

Recently, the nine community action programs in Maine have received an additional five million dollars.

“They’re not sure how that’s going to be allocated. It could be used for weatherization, could be used for emergency funds, or a supplement, which means everyone that’s applied would get an extra little bit more, and anyone that is applying will get extra on top of what they are supposed to get,” said Stone.

For those who have received help, it’s assistance that’s very appreciated.

“I was crying I was so happy,” said Stuart.