Gift of Warmth #5

In today's Seacoast Sunday newspaper…

Those on fixed income need heat

By Amy Kane

Like the majority of people who receive fuel assistance, Theresa is a senior citizen. Her children live in three different states. She lives alone on a small, fixed income. Staying warm is a winter priority, so she applied for a little help with her heating bill.

Theresa worked all her life, and raised the youngest of her three children alone after a divorce.

"Because I worked, I figured when I retired I'd be able to relax and do anything," she said.

Theresa saved and was able to purchase her own small home in a mobile home park in a Seacoast town. She heats it with natural gas.
Theresa is thrifty but she barely squeaks by each month on a small Social Security check. Fuel assistance has relieved a bit of the burden.

"I am grateful for this. It's a little help that goes a long way," she said. "I'm comfortable now. I keep the temperature around 66 or 67 and wear a sweatshirt."

Her small dog is a beloved companion. She keeps in touch with her neighbors and worries about the ones who are struggling in a tough economy.

"Some of them are just a hair above being helped, and it gets harder for them every year," she said.

Theresa keeps busy with crafts, especially knitting and crocheting. She makes Christmas gifts for her children and grandchildren. She knits winter hats and donates them to the local social service center.

"I try to help if I can," she said.

She couldn't be with her family for Thanksgiving — two are serving in the military — so she invited a couple of brothers who live alone to share her turkey.

"Their mother asked me to keep an eye on them," she said.

Your tax-deductible donation to the Gift of Warmth will benefit Seacoast residents like Theresa who need help with heating costs this winter.
Please make checks in any amount payable to "Gift of Warmth" and send them to Seacoast Media Group, 111 New Hampshire Ave., Portsmouth, NH 03801.

For information or to apply for fuel assistance, contact the Rockingham Community Action Fuel Assistance program at 1-800-639-3896.

RCA has an office in Portsmouth and outreach centers in Salem, Raymond and Derry. RCA also offers help with literacy, employment training, security deposit and rent loans, health and nutrition, Head Start, budget counseling, energy audits and counseling, weatherization, and referrals for other social service needs.

Editorial: Seacoast's generosity will warm area homes



The wind woke me, prying its wind fingers into the cracks and crannies of the house, making wind sounds.

Storm today along our coast and up into southern Maine, with rain and southeast winds 30 to 40 mph, gusting to 60 this afternoon. A real hatch-battener.

My husband was called out on a trip to tropical climes. Twenty-one years with American Airlines and he stills misses holidays. He's scheduled to fly through Christmas and New Years too, but at least he's going to St. Thomas. How nice for him.

My daughters and I will load up our RAV4 Mayflower this morning and set sail into the teeth of the wind for the Land of Many Pies. Time to get out of bed.

A journey of 372 miles must begin with a single step.



Laura at the Blue Mermaid Island Grill, Portsmouth

Really good food, a little bit expensive. Good location at the edge of downtown. Eye-catching use of interior color.

I recommend the lobster and roasted corn chowder. The burgers are big.

Also savory: an appetizer called 'saddlebags' – crisy wontons filled with chicken, jack cheese, herbs and spices and served with ginger-soy dipping sauce. Crispy calamari rings with tomato-ancho chile mayo to dip, yum.

The drinks come with a little plastic mermaid perched on the rim of the glass.

The cocktails and the special small plates, finger foods, salads and 'fusion' cuisine are girly, according to my husband. But on Saturday it was just us girls, my sister and daughters. We were in town to return and borrow books and movies from the library, buy sweaters and socks, and find good yarn at the knitting store.

Blue Mermaid

Gift of Warmth #4


In today's Seacoast Sunday newspaper…

Newlyweds give warmth to others

Guests encouraged to donate to fuel fund

By Amy Kane

Throw a wedding party, get lots of gifts. That's the traditional formula to begin the happily-ever-after.

But instead of receiving packages tied up with pretty ribbons, one New Castle couple asked their wedding guests to give to the Gift of Warmth instead.

Michele Grennon and Joff Barrnett were married on Sept. 5. Their guests donated a total of $700 in their honor. Their generosity will help local residents who are struggling to afford the high costs of heating their homes and apartment this winter.

It is the second marriage for both Michele and Joff. They wanted an alternative to traditional gifts, something in the spirit of giving rather than receiving.

"We didn't need anything," Michele said.

When invited guests asked Joff if the couple had a registry, he joked that they should come with their pickup trucks and take things away instead.

Michele had donated to the Gift of Warmth fund-raiser last year. At the time, they were planning their wedding, oil prices had skyrocketed, and winter was looking a little scary for the less fortunate. They decided fuel assistance would be a worthy cause.

"We wanted to help take a chunk off their plate. People should not have to choose between heating fuel and medicine," Michele said.

A big tent was set up for the wedding reception at the edge of the water behind the couple's New Castle home, where the flashing beacons of three lighthouses are visible at night. About 80 people attended, including Michele's daughter and her daughter's husband, as well as Joff's two daughters.

"It was a gathering of the clans," Michele said.

The suggestion to donate to Gift of Warmth was well received by their guests.

"It was wonderful. Our friends were pleased with the choice, with being able to give," Michele said.

Helping others is how they met, in fact. The two served as board members of the New Hampshire Children's Alliance.
Joff is a child psychiatrist in Concord and an associate professor at Dartmouth Medical School. Michele is president of the Threshold Foundation, a philanthropic organization providing seed grant funds for environmental and social justice causes.

Both are pleased the Gift of Warmth addresses local needs, with all the money going to recipients rather than administrative overhead.

"There's precious little in New Hampshire that gives to New Hampshire," Joff said.

State government is going to be struggling in the next couple of years with a $200 million deficit and cuts may come to outreach organizations, Joff said.

Michele said she is supportive of fuel assistance because weatherization programs are available for recipients as well. Energy efficiency and conservation measures help reduce heating costs, providing a long-term solution for homeowners and renters as well as conserving energy resources.

"It's a systemic answer," Michele said.

"A lasting gift," Joff added.

Your tax-deductible donation to the Gift of Warmth will benefit Seacoast residents who need help with heating costs this winter.
Please make tax-deductible checks in any amount payable to "Gift of Warmth" and send them to Seacoast Media Group, 111 New Hampshire Ave., Portsmouth, NH 03801.


Oak leaves are mittens blown and caught in the treetops

It’s cold.

Cold feels wrong to me, like the absence of something. Even though it is the normal condition of our climate, particularly in November, and pretty much through April.

I need a mental climate adjustment. Love the cold; live the cold.

I’m typing this in a chair next to a gas fireplace.


Zeus in the woods

The days don’t seem long enough. Life doesn’t seem long enough.

Our dog turned 7 in October. He’s older than I am now, in dog years.

Driving north along the coast yesterday, the sun was low in the sky behind me. The ocean, rocks, beaches, marshes, houses, little closed up shops, fishing boats in Rye Harbor, white behemoth Wentworth Hotel were bathed in the fiery last light of sunset and it was beautiful. And it was 3:45 p.m.

Carpe diem.

The white sun
like a moth
on a string
circles the southpole.
– A. R. Ammons, Late November