Volunteers beat the heat for Heat Bank
By Sue Tiffin
Published: Sept. 19 2017
The sun was shining and bodies were sweating as almost 20 volunteers gave their all at the third annual Haliburton County Heat Bank (HCHB) wood cutting event to help people stay warm this winter.
“We lucked out with the second nice day of the year” said Tina Jackson HCHB coordinator.
Held at Abbey Gardens on Sept. 10 the event helps coordinate splitting stacking and organizing “emergency wood” from sources like Haliburton Forest and through private donations. The wood will later be distributed through HCHB to vulnerable Haliburton County residents who are struggling to heat their homes during the coldest months of winter. Wood depots across the county are home to about 80 truckloads of firewood.
“We can provide second and sometimes even third truckloads if a household continues to be in crisis” said Jackson. “Everybody’s needs are different. We have yet to turn anyone away because we didn’t have enough wood.”
Volunteers included friendly faces who had contributed in previous years and new faces including some of the people who have benefited from the program in the past.
“It’s a fun opportunity for people who want to be engaged” she said. “They don’t want to plan or sit at a table but they’re do-ers and they want to roll up their sleeves to help.”
Jackson said the event paired with a wood cutting day in Highlands East last weekend and an event in October organized by local realtors was essential to ensure the HCHB was ready for the calls they are already receiving.
“This is critical for us” she said. “It’s going to be a really cold year for people.”
Last year the HCHB assisted 105 households – 67 families and 38 single people which included 79 children and 51 seniors – in procuring heat via wood oil or propane and hydro bill assistance the latter which comes through grants advocacy or advice.
“We continue to focus on being more than just a temporary fix” said Jackson. “Our intake process provides benefits screening to help ensure that households are aware of other programs and resources they might qualify for that could help them move toward stability.”
Households across the county benefitted from the emergency heat program – 39 from Highlands East 33 from Minden Hills 28 from Dysart et al and five from Algonquin Highlands.
“We routinely get calls from older people in crisis who have been scouring for wood alongside the road” said Jackson. “All it takes is for one medical emergency… and physically you can’t go and collect the wood.”
Jackson said people then often turn to other heating sources to help supplement if they don’t have wood resulting in a revolving cycle that leads to further crisis when they can’t pay the Hydro bill but also can’t afford to buy wood.
“People will go to great lengths in terms of burning things that shouldn’t be burnt when they’re in crisis” she said. “They just shouldn’t be experiencing that after working their whole lives.”
For further information regarding volunteering donating or for those in need of assistance from Heat Bank Haliburton County visit heatbankhc.ca or contact Tina Jackson at 705-306-0565 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.