The Herald Bulletin

November 2, 2013

Operation Weatherization helps needy get ready for winter

By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin

ELWOOD, Ind. — Cold air once blew through a keyhole in one of Virgil and Kathy Goble's doors. The door also sagged leaving room for wintry air to seep through from the outside. A stairwell leading up to their bedrooms was drafty.

Saturday, four volunteers dropped by the Gobles with tape and sheets of plastic. The crew spent two hours covering windows, a door and the keyhole to help keep the family of five warm this winter.

Crews from the United Way were all over Madison County for the seventh year of Operation Weatherization. The program sends volunteers to low income families to help weatherize homes for winter.

Kim Rodgers-Hatfield, Vice-President of Operations for the United Way, said volunteers weatherized 85 houses in Madison County on Saturday. Families received everything from plastic shreets over their windows, like the Gobles, to new caulk and foam to seal cracks as well as water heater blankets and energy efficient light bulbs.

"It's nice they came here," said Kathy Goble. "They covered a bathroom window, too, and they put a smoke alarm up."

The two-story home, located on Elwood's northeast side and built in 1887, is often drafty and the Gobles said they couldn't afford renovations. He works for the Package Right puzzle factory in Tipton and Kathy is unemployed. She does assist at a local food pantry when not caring for her mother and her disabled daughter.

The Gobles applied for weatherization work through the United Way.

"It's good they've got things like this program, you know, the way the economy is because it is pretty rough for everybody out there," said Virgil Goble. "Not just for us but for many people."

Rodgers-Hatfield said it's all in an attempt to help economically disadvantaged residents save money on utilities bill.

"The number one assistance call we get is for help with utility bills," she said. "We're trying to do anything we can to reduce the need."

This is the fourth year Rodgers-Hatfield has organized the event, but it was the first year for volunteer Anna Rayis, a senior at Anderson University. Rayis is interning with United Way this semester and serves as the president for the student United Way group. While new to this particular project, Rayis is no stranger to volunteering.

"I've done a lot of group projects," Rayis said. "It's very cool to see how grateful the families are. We're just trying to use the tools we have to help others."

The weatherization day takes place on the first Saturday of every November. Rodgers-Hatfield said with the project spread out over the whole county, it can be extremely tough to make sure everyone gets where they need to be.

"It's a very hard project to coordinate because their are so many pieces," she said. "But it's very satisfying in the end."