While deserved attention has been given to our “energy crisis,” this may be distracting us from an economic crisis. There is no shortage of home heating oil, gas or diesel. What is lacking for some is money to pay for these essentials at current prices. Households might be able to handle the higher cost of these essentials, but when combined with increasing food costs, medical costs, etc., many are in an economic crisis.
What can be done? We can work to ensure those in need are aware of and have access to existing government “safety net” programs such as food stamps, heating assistance, general assistance, the rental and property tax circuit breaker programs, and supplemental nutrition programs like WIC. Information is available on the City of Bangor’s Web page and cable access channels. In addition, 211 is a statewide resource-referral telephone number with important resource information.
We can be strategic with our philanthropic dollars. For example, dollars donated to the Good Shepherd Food bank are magnified by their ability to buy food at 16 cents on the dollar. We urge our federal and state leaders to work diligently to address long-term energy issues and need neighbors stepping up to help neighbors by making sure they are warm and safe, sharing a meal or helping to weatherize a drafty window or door. We can save over $1 billion in heating costs over 10 years by weatherizing every home in Maine.
We must ensure that no one in our community goes to bed hungry or malnourished or worried about staying warm.
C. Shawn Yardley
Bangor Health & Community Services