Peterborough heating assistance program seeks applicants, donors

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/2/2019 9:10:11 PM

Keep Peterborough Warm, a heating assistance program administered by the town of Peterborough, seeks both applicants and donors after receiving only three applications for assistance last year.

“The town has found over the years that rather than people taking advantage of it… they are much more likely to not ask for it when they need it. If you need this, please use it – it’s for you,” co-founder Sue Chollet said. “I think the name of the fund is probably enough. There are people who need this kind of help, and I personally like to be warm in the winter.”

The program is administered by the town offices, and grants up to $1,000 per year, mailed directly to the fuel oil provider, for applicants who meet the program’s household financial criteria. Deputy Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said that if applicants meet the criteria for the state’s Fuel Assistance Program, the Keep Peterborough Warm program can still make up the difference if the federal program offers less than $1,000.

The program is only for applicants who pay their own heating bill, which may disqualify some renters from the assistance. MacStay said that “every demographic category” has been served by the program in years past.

Chollet said the program has served up to 26 individuals in previous years. “I think the economy’s been very good, that’s part of it,” MacStay said of last year’s low application rate, but “general knowledge of the program’s existence has kind of dimmed.”

“We try to keep between 20 and 30,000 in the fund on an annual basis to make sure we have enough to meet the needs if we have a particularly rough year or… high demand,” such as during the Great Recession, MacStay said. The program is funded entirely by donations, and periodically by grants from the NH Charitable Foundation.

Keep Peterborough Warm was co-founded in 2005 as a public-private partnership by Chollet and former Town Manager Pam Brenner. Chollet said that at the time, she was volunteering with the afterschool program “The Place to Go” on a cold day.

“I had one of my heaviest sweaters on, a fifth grader was sitting there in a T-shirt,” she said, when she asked the student whether he was cold. “He said, ‘Oh, no, this is nothing, my mom keeps the house at 40 because we can’t pay for oil.’ I said, we gotta do something about this.”

Chollet said she was “horrified” by the cost of oil, and realized that there were many people whose income was above the cutoff for federal heating assistance, but still couldn’t afford to heat their homes.

MacStay said the applications for assistance are available in the town office, and open annually on Oct. 1 and close at the end of April. Anyone considering applying should also take advantage of Eversource’s assistance programs as well, she said.

To donate to Keep Peterborough Warm, send a check for the “Keep Peterborough Warm Fund” to the town office.


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