December 12, 2013, Montpelier, VT – Vermont’s fuel assistance programs have absorbed major federal funding cuts in recent years and now receive less than half of the funds than they did in 2009. The State of Vermont added an additional $2.1 million to the $6 million it set aside to make up for the shortfall this year, but the average yearly benefit is still projected to fall short by over $100 per household. Established in 2001 by Martha Robertson of Peru, VT, Ski for Heat has raised nearly a quarter million dollars for the cause to date. In an effort to fundraise over $100,000 in 2014, Ski Vermont and member ski and snowboard resorts, and the five Community Action Agencies (CAAs) of Vermont have expanded the program to become a statewide effort.
Vermonters all around the state can support neighbors in need of heating assistance this winter simply by hitting the slopes on January 26, 2014 and collecting donations via Firstgiving.com. Participants can sign up to raise money for Ski for Heat at www.skiforheat.org and be entered to win Rossignol skis, ski-and-stay packages, helmets and goggles from anon and more. Resorts are also dishing out incentives like discounted and free lift tickets the day of the event. For a complete list of prizes and incentives, visit www.skiforheat.org.
“I think everyone who lives in Vermont can understand the difficulties of staying warm through the winter,” said Martha Robertson of Ski for Heat. “Our statewide event will not only bring much needed funds to programs for all counties in the state, but it will also provide more fun and easy opportunities for folks in Vermont to help their neighbors. People like the chance to feel like they can make a difference.”
“I’m pleased that Ski Vermont has joined Martha Robertson’s great work to expand Ski for Heat statewide,” said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “As a cross country skier, I join Vermonters across the state who can ski or snowshoe to help a neighbor in need. As we know, cuts in federal assistance programs are making this a tough year for many people to keep their homes warm, and every little bit helps. I hope Vermonters take this opportunity to strap on their Nordic and alpine skis or their snowboards and snowshoes, and head outside on January 26 for a good cause.”
“Familiar with the cold temperatures of winter, Ski Vermont is very grateful to have the opportunity to help neighbors in need of heating assistance this season, “ said VSAA Public Affairs Director Sarah Wojcik. “What makes this program so unique and so Vermont is that participants will be supporting actual neighbors, as donations are allocated to the Community Action Agency (CAA) in the region of the resort where they ski or ride. For example, money raised at Jay Peak Resort and Burke Mountain will go to those in need in the Northeast Kingdom.”
Home heating is an integral part of day-to-day lives in Vermont; the difficulties in doing so are often headlines in the news. “The ability to heat our homes is a basic need Vermonters take for granted when they have the resources to do it; those who can’t, often suffer great hardships and health risks,’ said Steve Geller, President of the VT Community Action Partnership (VCAP). “The state’s Community Action Agencies (CAAs) have been helping Vermonters keep their homes warm for almost 35 years. But,” he added, “deep funding cuts have made it more and more difficult to meet that need.”
“Ski for Heat has helped fund fuel assistance at two of the CAAs for years, so it made sense to expand the event to the other three to cover the entire state. We’re thrilled that Ski Vermont is playing such a large role in this crucial initiative. Given the combination of increased need, decreased funds, and more restrictive State crisis fuel eligibility, this effort couldn’t be timelier.”
Skiing and riding at alpine resorts are not the only ways Vermonters can support their neighbors. Originally a Nordic endeavor, Ski for Heat also includes cross country skiing and snowshoeing. For a full list of participants, visit skiforheat.org.
SKI FOR HEAT
Ski for Heat started in 2001, when Robertson wanted to make a holiday donation but could afford to do so only if she came up with a way to raise the money. Starting off with a modest goal of $100, this grassroots event has now raised a quarter of a million dollars. Ski for Heat is the recipient of the national eTown e-Chievement award (www.etown.org) and the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service. For more information, go to the Ski for Heat website, www.skiforheat.org.
Ski Vermont (Vermont Ski Areas Association) is a proud ambassador of the thriving winter tourism industry in Vermont, where the legislature has designated skiing and snowboarding as the official state sports. Vermont is not only the #1 ski state in the east and third in the US, but also reigns supreme in snowmaking quality and coverage, variety of terrain and historical impact on the sports of skiing and snowboarding – making it one of the most significant ski and ride destinations in the world. Ski Vermont’s mission is to help create a legislative, economic and social environment in which the state’s ski areas can grow and prosper. It serves its 19 Alpine and 30 Nordic member resorts in three major areas: Governmental Affairs, Marketing and Public Affairs.