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This week’s edition!

Resources to get through winter

Guest Column

By Sen. Ned Claxton

Although we’re well into the month of February and many of us are dreaming of warmer days, I know that we still have a couple months of cold weather ahead of us.

That’s why I wanted to make sure folks are aware of some of the resources that are available in the community. This year, with the isolation many are facing, combined with the pandemic’s devastating economic impacts, it’s especially important that everyone can access help if they need it. Thankfully for us, there are some great organizations here in Maine that are ready to assist.

Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Androscoggin), Maine District 20, Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester, and Poland (Photo courtesy of Sen. Claxton)

The most important part to making sure folks are safe during the winter is that they can heat their home. Because of the pandemic, a lot of people are being forced to stretch every dollar even further than usual. No matter what your situation is, if you need help paying to heat your home, please do not wait to ask for assistance. There is a program specifically designed for this purpose. It’s called the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), and it is federally funded but run through local agencies right here in Maine. Our local agency in Androscoggin County is Community Concepts, and they can be reached at 1-800-866-5588. In addition to the HEAP program, Community Concepts also offers the Central Heating Improvement Program (CHIP), which can provide grants to clean, repair or replace central heating systems for qualifying households.

If you have been trying to get service from a fuel provider but haven’t received a response, you can call the consumer mediation line in the Maine Attorney General’s office. This free helpline helps Mainers to settle disputes between consumers and businesses. You can reach them by phone at 626-8849 or send them an email at consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) also offers useful tips on staying prepared for winter weather and being conscious of potential hazards at home. Topics include generator use, alternative heating sources and carbon monoxide safety. You can read their tips at www.maine.gov/mema/maine-prepares/home-preparedness or call them at 800-452-8735.

For any other resource you might want to learn about, you can always reach out to 211 Maine. This is a service run by the United Way in partnership with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. It connects folks who have questions with the answers they need. No matter what issue or question you might have, 211 can direct you to the proper resource or give you answers right on the spot. You can visit their website at 211maine.org, call them by dialing 2-1-1, or send them an email at info@211maine.org.

This is not an all-inclusive list of the resources available to us, but I hope you have found it helpful as we work our way through the rest of the winter. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can help you or your family. You can send me an email at Ned.Claxton@legislature.maine.gov or call my office at 287-1515. Please be well and stay safe.

Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Androscoggin) represents Maine Senate District 20, which includes Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester, and Poland.

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