My position is weatherization and repair coordinator for the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.
I moved up to Maine because I was offered an AmeriCorps Vista position (at 7 Rivers Maine/Habitat for Humanity), so I was a volunteer for a full year first. I enjoyed it a lot, and apparently they saw it would be worthwhile to bring me on as staff member. So, I’ve been working here, altogether, for about 16 months.
Habitat for Humanity is completely volunteer based, except for the few staff members here full time. Most if not all of the work on some projects is done completely by volunteers who are interested in the work and also want to give back to their communities.
This fall, we’ve been working on Step One Weatherization projects, which are based on volunteer labor. We were in 30 homes this past September and October. That’s with volunteers.
They go in and work on basic air sealing. They replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs. They do some homeowner education while they’re in there. One of the big things that they do during the weatherization work is they measure for interior storm windows.
These interior storm windows are a pretty interesting design. They’re very basic, as all good ideas are. They consist of pre-primed pine stock, some spline and two layers of plastic that create a dead airspace in between.
When installed, they increase the insulation value of the windows. In the 30 homes, we did anywhere from eight to 10 of these storm windows. The goal is to enhance comfort and save a little money through energy efficiency.
I’ve got a whole folder full of stuff people have given me. This program is free. There’s no exchange of money. So, people feel like they have to give something back — which they often do, whether it’s coffee and cookies or, for instance, we were up in Boothbay the other day and we were installing a bunch of storm windows in this artist’s house. He gave me, and all the volunteers, a beautiful small mirror that he detailed with stained glass.
He said, “Here you go.” It was great. It was rewarding. It was good. It’s amazing what people give back to you.
To apply for the program, just call Habitat at 386-5087. We try to help people on an individual basis.
Traditionally, Habitat builds homes. We’re one of the only affiliates in the country that is moving forward with weatherization.
Maine has one of the oldest housing stocks in the nation. We have one of the highest heating oil usages in the nation. But we also have one of the highest homeownership rates in the country. So people are already in homes.
If people don’t need us to build a house, why would we? So, we make those homes more comfortable and energy efficient. It’s a logical progression.