When you tune into WWJ AM 950 this Friday morning, you’ll notice their programming is just a bit different. In addition to their normal news, weather and traffic reporting, they will be raising money for THAW, The Heat and Warmth Fund.
This will be the ninth radiothon that THAW has done with WWJ and this year the need is greater than ever. From 5 am on Friday, January 27 until noon on Saturday, January 28th, organizers hope to raise $1.6 million, an increase of 20 percent from last year. Susan Sherer, CEO of THAW is confident that goal can be reached because of the neighborly spirit in Metropolitan Detroit.
“This is really about neighbors helping neighbors. We’re all experiencing in our own neighborhoods people who are losing their jobs, having their homes foreclosed, having to move and cobbling together their next landing spot,” she notes.
THAW works to help people who are in danger of having their gas or electric service shut off. A lawsuit that kept much of their federal funding in limbo has been resolved, but that funding does not cover the bills for everyone who needs assistance. Events like the radiothon help THAW reach the 20,000 people from around Michigan who have called for assistance.
Sherer is quick to point out that the majority of people only seek help from THAW once and the organization works to help families with small children and/or senior citizens first. And even though we have experienced a relatively mild winter so far, that does not mean heating bills are smaller this winter. Many of the people THAW serves live in older homes with poor insulation. The difference in energy costs between a weatherized home and a non-weatherized home can be as much as $1,000 per year.
That is why THAW is piloting a few programs to help people be proactive about their situations. They are collaborating with organizations to assist people with weatherization, energy optimization and budget counseling. Sherer firmly believes that this approach will ultimately help more people pay for the energy they use without any assistance.