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Volunteers’ labor warms Vassalboro homes

VASSALBORO — In a region filled with old, drafty housing stock, many residents living modestly could use some help to keep their homes warm through the harsh ... WindowDressers is a group dedicated to helping Maine residents reduce heating costs, fossil ...

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Twenty-six local buildings will be less drafty after a weekend effort turns out 267 window inserts By Colin EllisMorning Sentinel Follow on TwitterEmail Writer207-861-9253 Share Read Article Vassalboro resident Nate Gray, front right, puts finishing touches on a plastic-wrapped window insert on SaturdayGray was working with the Friends Advocating for Vassalboro's Older Residents committee, which organized the project to help people whose windows needed weatherizingStaff photo by Elise Klysa VASSALBORO — In a region filled with old, drafty housing stock, many residents living modestly could use some help to keep their homes warm through the harsh winter. To that end, a local committee – Friends Advocating for Vassalboro’s Older Residents – and other volunteers have been busy at Ray Breton’s Olde Mill Place, creating window inserts for those drafty places. Holly Weidner of Vassalboro cuts excess plastic from a wooden frame as she helps prepare window inserts for residents who needed to insulate their windowsThe Friends Advocating for Vassalboro's Older Residents committee gathered community volunteers together over the weekend to measure, build and distribute the plastic windowsPhoto by Elise Klysa David Bolduc, right, maintenance supervisor of the Vassalboro Historical Society, inspects a wrapped window frameVolunteers created the plastic window inserts at a community build on SaturdayBolduc plans on installing the inserts at the historical society's building in East VassalboroPhoto by Elise Klysa Search photos available for purchase: Photo Store ? Vassalboro Town Manager Mary Sabins on Saturday said the group, known as FAVOR, has been working with a Rockland-based nonprofit group, WindowDressers, to build window inserts that go on the insides of windows. “It’s for everyone who has drafty windows,” Sabins said. Volunteers built the inserts on Saturday and Sunday, working two separate four-hour shifts each day. Walking around the section of the mill where the volunteers worked, Sabins showed how each station was part of a well-coordinated processAt one station, volunteers applied double-sided tape to the wooden frames, which were then transferred to a new station to get wrapped with plasticThen the process was repeated at new stationsThen the frames wrapped in plastic went through a heating station to ensure they were wrinkle-free and ready to goFinally, a layer of clear tape was placed around the perimeter of the frames to keep all the elements together. All told, FAVOR made 267 frames for 26 customersVolunteers went to every home whose inhabitants had placed an order, to measure the windows for the insertsMany of those who ordered inserts were older residents. “All the inserts are either ready to be wrapped or are wrapped,” Sabins said, initially estimating that volunteers could finish around 60 frames a day. WindowDressers uses a volunteer model that helps keep the cost of the inserts low, making it viable for seniors or other residents on fixed or low incomesAn insert of average size is $25 for a pine finish and $31 for a white finish, but are also priced according to a person’s circumstances; those unable to pay can receive up to 10. Inserts that were put together incorrectly are fixed free of chargeThose scratched by pets or otherwise damaged can be rewrapped for $10. Sabins said WindowDressers came and helped them set up the stations at the Olde Mill. According to its website, WindowDressers is a group dedicated to helping Maine residents reduce heating costs, fossil fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions by lowering the amount of heat loss through windowsCiting Maine as having the oldest housing stock in the nation, the group targets leaky windows and estimates that their customers save 10 to 20 percent on fuel consumptionThe group donates 22 percent of its inserts to low-income families who otherwise can’t afford them. Laura Seaton, the director of community builds for WindowDressers, said the town of Vassalboro reached out to themThis is typically a late time in the organization’s season, but Seaton said they had one spot left for a community build, so Vassalboro got it. She said they will have done 27 community builds this season, which runs from September into JanuaryShe estimated they will have made over 6,000 inserts this yearShe said WindowDressers helps construct inserts all across the state, from Wells to Mount Desert Island, with plans to keep growing. “We’re going to be even more places next year,” she said. FAST WORK Seaton praised the volunteers in Vassalboro, as they were able to finish their build well ahead of scheduleTypically, a build lasts four or five days, and Vassalboro had scheduled four days at the millBut because of the number of volunteers and how well they were coordinated, Vassalboro was able to wrap up in two days. “They were exceptionally well organized,” Seaton said. Sabins said one of the largest customers the town had was the Historical Society, which occupies the former East Vassalboro Grammar School, a big red building in the East Village areaThe Historical Society was founded in 1963, but the building it calls home was built before then and has drafty windows. “They’re excited about this opportunity,” Sabins said. Once inserts are complete, customers pick them upThey are given instructions on how to install them and then how to take them out again in the spring and store them when not in useIf properly taken care of, the inserts are estimated to last about 10 years, Sabins saidThey can also be rewrapped if needed. Some customers paid for the inserts, but Sabins said others did notIf a resident can’t afford the cost, he or she is given 10 free pine insertsPaying customers send their money to WindowDressersIf customers can’t pay the full price, they are asked to give a donation they are comfortable withAll are asked to volunteer in some capacityOn Saturday, about 15 volunteers worked in the old mill, making the stations run like clockwork, with each station fully occupied. “All are asked to contribute something,” Sabins said. Sabins said other town committees were asked to provide volunteers as well. FAVOR had hoped to get around 10 customers in the first year, but the 26 the committee attracted is much closer to the usual size at WindowDressers builds, which are usually between 30 and 40WindowDressers, which was started in a church in Rockland years ago, trains community members to measure customers’ windows and take orders, as well as build the final productThe frames are cut and put together in Rockland, where Vassalboro volunteers went to pick them up prior to the build. Once word gets around town about the event and more interest arises, Sabins said she expects there may be future window-insert buildsVassalboro, with FAVOR’s backing, needed only two months of planning to get ready for the build, Sabins said. Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at: [email protected] Twitter: colinoellis Share Read or Post Comments Send questions/comments to the editors Want the news vital to Maine? 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