Event helps raise $33,000 to assist seniors with home heating costs
A charity event for Colonie seniors didn’t stop the snow, but it will help them keep warm while they’re inside avoiding it.
Colonie Senior Service Center’s Inc., along with a number of other organizations, hosted the fifth annual Warmth of Wine benefit on Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Century House in Latham, to raise money to help seniors pay for heating and repair bills.
Ed Neary, executive director for Colonie Senior Service Center, said the event helped to push the five-year grand total past $110,000 in donations.
Since initiating the Warmth of Wine in 2006, Colonie Senior Service Centers has raised nearly $75,000, said the event’s chairman Bill Hoblock, `And with this year’s event, we hope to add much more to help seniors in need.`
Hoblock and his wife, Kristin, helped organize the event and rally support.
Hoblock said he had been on the board for five years before becoming a chair.
`We were looking for a way to get younger people helping older people,` he said. `Everybody loves to help, despite the bad weather.`
Hoblock said every dollar goes directly to the seniors who cannot pay their heating bills.
More than 300 tickets were sold for this year’s fundraiser, more than tripling the initial 90 sold five years ago. The fundraiser brought in $36,000, close to 33 percent more than last year’s total, Neary said.
Neary said he is expecting requests from nearly 100 seniors, and that number has been rising each year.
He said the rise in heating cost is less of a problem than the limited income of seniors, who are not getting cost-of-living increases.
`The winter months are already taxing for senior citizens without the added financial strain of heating a home,` said Neary. `Every day we see the difficulties faced by many of our senior neighbors who simply can’t afford to stay warm, which is why we created this event to help warm hearts and bring comfort to some of our most vulnerable neighbors and friends.`
Umbrella of Colonie, the home maintenance program of Colonie Senior Service Centers, is going to assist seniors update equipment and make repairs to home-heating units.
`In addition to high heating bills, we often encounter outdated and inefficient heating systems. Poorly maintained, sometimes unsafe heating systems increase what senior homeowners pay for heat, and their bills show it,` said Tony Scardillo, director for Umbrella of Colonie in a statement. `It is not unusual for a senior living on less than $1,200 a month to have a three-month heating bill for over $2,000.`
The Warmth of Wine event is sponsored by SEFCU, Capital Communications Federal Credit Union, the Times Union, 99.5 The River, Fox23 News and The Spotlight.
Neary said donations, ticket sales, auctions and raffles were the primary source of funds raised at the event.
`We were fortunate with the weather not being too challenging,` he said. `It was a great community event.`