VASSALBORO — A town committee dedicated to finding ways to improve life for the elderly in the area is scrambling to put together a community build to help people insulate their windows.

At a meeting Wednesday morning, the Friends Advocating for Vassalboro’s Older Residents committee, known as FAVOR, met with Laura Seaton, director of community builds for the nonprofit WindowDressers, to discuss the possibility of organizing a community build that would make window inserts, which prevent drafts, available to residents.

While the group is facing a tight deadline — they plan to do the build in mid-December, and they need to get customer information to WindowDressers one month in advance — they are motivated to bring the low-cost opportunity to residents.

“I think we should proceed and see how it goes,” committee member Lee Duff said. “If it doesn’t reach the goal, then you do it again” next year.

Those who are interested in buying an insert can sign up at the Town Office or call 872-2826 for more information. The deadline for buying an insert is Nov. 8, as volunteers need to measure the windows and send the information to WindowDressers by mid-November.

The nonprofit uses a volunteer model that helps keep the cost of the inserts low, making it a desirable project for seniors on fixed incomes or others in the community with low incomes. An insert of average size is $25 for a pine finish and $31 for a white finish. Inserts that were put together incorrectly are fixed free of charge, and those scratched by pets or otherwise damaged can be rewrapped for $10.

The University of Maine at Orono studied the effectiveness of the nonprofit’s inserts and found that, depending on the home and quality of the window, they typically cut the energy bill by 20 percent, according to Seaton.

“Regardless of how much you’re paying for heat, having the inserts reduces the draftiness of the house,” she said. “What I hear people say is, ‘I can now sit right by my windows and not feel cold,’ and that in itself is a benefit.”

Low-income households also can get up to 10 inserts each season for free or an optional donation.

“The low-income program is a major part of our mission. It’s part of why we’re here,” she said. “No one should ever feel ashamed that they’re part of the low-income program. We have grant funding specifically for getting inserts to these families that need financial help.”

While the FAVOR committee focuses on projects that can help seniors, such as an informational fair to promote helpful services, this project is open to all residents. They hope to get at least 10 customers in their first year, which Seaton said is a good size for a small build. Most builds get 30 to 40 customers.

WindowDressers started years ago at a church in Rockland and is run almost entirely by volunteers, according to Seaton. The nonprofit trains community members to measure customers’ windows and take orders, as well as build the final product. The frames are cut and put together in Rockland before going to local volunteers who wrap them in tape, plastic and foam to create the finished product.

The organization has 27 community builds planned throughout the state this year, and it expects to build more than 5,000 inserts.

The FAVOR committee also will be advertising for volunteers to come forward on the building days, which probably will be immediately after Dec. 15. The group plans to use either the town’s local Grange hall or part of Ray Breton’s mill as a workshop. WindowDressers provides the training necessary to build the inserts.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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