ROCKLAND, Maine — Local officials showed their warm side last winter by starting up a fuel assistance fund for residents who “fell through the cracks” for eligibility for the LIHEAP and general assistance programs.
The City Council a year ago responded to rising fuel prices and created a fuel assistance account with money from the Haines Fund, a private donation made many years ago to help local residents.
“They put in $10,000 and planned to replace it with money from the sale of the city-owned property on South Main Street,” Brenda Harrington, administrative assistant and general assistance director, said of the city councilors.
After the fund was founded, Harrington took in $18,600 in donations last winter.
“We assisted 33 households with the fuel last winter,” Harrington said.
The story doesn’t end there.
Last summer, Harrington and her friend Ray Wooster raised $3,310 parking cars for one day at the Boston Financial parking lot on the first day of the Lobster Festival.
“We parked cars from 7:30 in the morning until 8 that night,” she said.
A local real estate agent heard about the effort and applied for a matching grant to the parking lot money.
Kerry Hall of the Jaret & Cohn office in Rockland approached the St. George River Council, a board of real estate agents in Thomaston and Rockland, about applying to the Maine Association of Realtors.
“MAR will present a check for $3,300 to the Fuel Assistance Fund on December 17,” Hall said last week.
Harrington said other donations have come in from businesses, including $2,000 from Down East Energy Co., another $500 from an anonymous business owner, and individual donations of $200, $100 and $50.
“We have a lot of resources here in Rockland,” said Harrington.