The annual "Warmth of Wine" benefit, held on Thursday, Feb. 28, this year, is a nonprofit program that raises money for Colonie seniors to help with their heating bills.
continued “This is a really unique event. Every single dollar that comes in to this event goes right back into the community to help the seniors,” Hoblock said.
Neary said the money is handed out almost immediately after the event, and through the program they help out more than 200 seniors annually. Each senior must fill out an application and supply their heating bills and income, and the money is distributed on a case-by-case basis, as there are some who need less assistance than others. Neary said they also help to fix or replace heating systems.
“Heating bills and cost of energy certainly has gone up over the past four or five years significantly,” Neary said. “It creates difficulty for people on fixed incomes to make ends meet, that’s why this program has become popular.”
Although seniors are paying heating bills for a couple of months, the money raised from each event is distributed in early March because January and February are the two coldest and most expensive months, Hoblock said.
Neary said the Warmth of Wine turnout each year has grown tremendously and is very grateful for the support.
“Every little bit helps,” Neary said.
Seniors have to reapply each year for assistance, but Audi said she hasn’t been turned down yet. While she’s thought of moving to a warmer state, she doesn’t want to leave family who still live in the area, or the lifestyle she has grown used to. Luckily, the few extra hundred dollars during the winter have helped her to stay.
“There are a lot of seniors worse off than me. They need the program. I know of some people in order to pay their heating bill they will not get a prescription they need that month,” Audi said. “They have to choose, ‘Do I want to be warm, or do I want to get my medication?’ Sometimes they won’t get their medication. Or they’ll skip on groceries.”
The 8th Annual Warmth of Wine will take place on Thursday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Century House at 997 New Loudon Road in Latham. Tickets are $50. For more information, visit www.colonieseniors.org.