Friday, October 22, 2021

Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization preparing for another heating assistance season

Watch for information about Windham Neighbors Helping 
Neighbors online auction which will help provide funds
for heating assistance for local families. If you would like
to donate, go to
 By Ed Pierce

If you ask Bill Diamond what’s been one of the most rewarding feelings that he’s ever experienced, he’ll tell you it’s his association with the Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors program.

Diamond, a state senator representing Windham and former Maine Secretary of State, helped co-found Neighbors Helping Neighbors, which helps area residents in need stay warm during some of the coldest months of the year. He served as the organization’s president for 13 years before deciding to let new leaders steer the group.

But Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a source of pride for Diamond and remains a relevant and viable resource in the community as Windham and Raymond approach another winter heating season.

“The community has become totally supportive, much more so than I ever expected which is evidenced by the routine unsolicited donations we receive throughout the year,” Diamond said.

The program provides one-time emergency heating fuel assistance to Windham residents and helps to direct individuals in need to find appropriate resources and to promote a culture of neighbors helping neighbors in the community.

“The community believes in our cause, and we have become the default local charity when groups or individuals want to donate to a good local cause,” Diamond said. “Hopefully the organization will continue to grow and nurture the solid reputation that has been achieved. I have no doubt that will be the case.”

Windham’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization was founded in October 2007 by Diamond, Representative Mark Bryant, and former Representative Gary Plummer. It is a 501c3 non-profit and is made up of Windham volunteers who have come together to provide one-time emergency assistance to those Windham residents who require immediate heating fuel.

Patrick Corey is currently serving as the president of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

The organization itself has no overhead costs whatsoever and all funding goes directly to helping those in desperate need. Every penny that is donated goes for heating fuel and 100 percent of fundraising efforts are used for the purchase of fuel for those who are in dire need.

Diamond says the organization focuses its resources on those who may have fallen through the cracks and either don’t qualify or are in a bureaucratic process waiting for heating assistance from other agencies.

“The most striking and unforgettable case that we helped involved a single mom with two kids and she had serious physical challenges,” Diamond said. “We heard about her needs, so we visited her home in January and discovered she was totally out of heating fuel and in an effort to keep her family warm, she had placed blankets on the doorways surrounding the kitchen, had a small electric heater and they all slept and lived in that space.”

He said that the family slept closely together at night using their body heat to keep them warm.

“This was happening in our own town, not some poverty-stricken country, and it was heartbreaking to see and realize that the struggle to obtain the basics of survival exist here in Windham and no doubt in other towns as well,” Diamond said. “I’ll never forget the expression on her face when we told her we would provide heating fuel for her family, which we did that day. That experience was my motivating force to make Neighbors a highly respected organization that would exist indefinitely for those in our town that need help.”

The heating assistance can be a lifeline for those struggling to stay warm in winter.

“In many cases, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors help people heat their homes safely without needing to choose between basic needs like heat, rent, medications and food,” Diamond said.

Recipients receive 100 gallons of fuel, and their need can be attributed to many different circumstances. Some are elderly and living on fixed incomes, others may have lost a job or be out of work and trying to reestablish their lives, while some may just have a temporary emergency situation that requires an immediate solution.

The program is confidential and harkens back to a time when neighbors banded together to pitch in and help their neighbors when it was needed the most.

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization lines up deliveries to recipients. It provides heating oil, but assistance also can be rendered for those with KI and propane systems or through Bio-Bricks for homes using wood-burning heat.

During the first year of operations for Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a total of 17 families were helped. By 2014, that number grew to 101 families, and that total has since stabilized at about 75 families locally each winter.

The organization continues to serve the community because of countless donations of labor, hours, ideas and funding through contributions of money and goods from concerned individuals and businesses, Diamond said.

For more details about Neighbors Helping Neighbors, visit or call 207-1336. To make a financial donation to the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, go to To apply for assistance, go to

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