Volunteers help winterize low-income Lexington residents' homes

jwarren@herald-leader.comNovember 16, 2013 

About 100 volunteers ignored Saturday morning's damp, gloomy weather and fanned out across Lexington to help prepare low-income residents' homes for winter.

Working in teams of five or six, the volunteers visited more than 50 homes, sealing windows with plastic sheeting and installing energy-efficient light bulbs and shower heads.

It was the 2013 edition of WinterBlitz, an annual joint effort by the Lexington Community Action Council, Kentucky Utilities and the Kentucky American Water Co. The goal is to make winter a little easier for low-income residents by helping them reduce their winter heating bills.

One place that WinterBlitz volunteers visited Saturday was the home of Marvin and Mattie Robertson on Dominican Drive.

A team lead by Tonika Gay put plastic sheeting over several of the Robertsons' windows and replaced light bulbs. Gay gave Mattie Robertson a book of energy-saving tips and presented her with a blanket to help keep out the winter chill.

Mattie Robertson said she heard about the WinterBlitz program through her daughter and promptly signed up to participate.

She and her husband have lived on Dominican Drive for more than 40 years, she said. She said she thinks the treatment her house received Saturday will make things more pleasant during the wintry months.

The story is a typical one, said Malcomb Ratchford, executive director of the Lexington Community Action Council.

"The irony is that many Lexington homeowners who have limited incomes also end up paying some of the highest energy bills over the winter," Ratchford said. "They don't have the cash to buy new energy saving appliances, and they don't have the money to do a lot of winterization on their homes."

But a few simple, remedial steps like those WinterBlitz provides can shave $30 or more off a homeowner's electrical bill over the course of the winter, he said. For many families, that's a significant savings, according to Ratchford.

The WinterBlitz program began eight years ago. It depends heavily on volunteers, and they turned out in bunches Saturday morning.

There were people of all ages, made up of representatives from church groups, employees from KU and Kentucky American, workers from various other private businesses, and about 10 riders from the Lexington-based Hypnotiq Motorcycle Club. Club members left their motorcycles at home, since they were going to be carrying tools for Saturday's winterization work.

The group's youngest representative was Eli Ingram, 13, whose father, Ronnie Ingram, is one of the Hypnotiq riders.

Jim Warren (85) 231-3255.

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