Ski for Heat is the kind of non-profit that thrives in Vermont. It started fifteen years ago when Martha Robertson wanted to direct her Christmas giving to help neighbors heat their homes. But she was too broke, so she asked family and friends to help her: Would they sponsor her to ski at Wild Wings Cross Country Ski Center, near her home? Chuck and Tracy Black, the proprietors of Wild Wings, were happy to support Martha’s efforts, and Martha raised $10,000 that first year. She gave the money to BROC, one of Vermont’s five Community Action Agencies that provides emergency fuel assistance. Fifteen years later, Ski for Heat is thriving. It’s raised $300,000 to date, is now a non-profit, and has spread to cross-country and downhill ski areas across the state.
I discovered all this when I headed up to Wild Wings a few weeks ago, back when the weather was a balmy twenty degrees and we’d just had our first five-inches of snow. Martha was there with her twin, Laura, as well as Pam Shambo from BROC. Shambo has been working with Ski for Heat from the start, distributing these funds that help provide emergency fuel assistance to those who might not qualify for government programs but nevertheless need help.
There are a great many Vermonters who need help staying warm in the winter, and all the money Ski for Heat raises goes to emergency fuel assistance in the county where it’s raised. Donations made at Bolton Valley stay in Chittenden County, those at Morse Farm stay in Washington County, and those at Grafton Ponds help residents in Windham. The money raised at Wild Wings supports programs in Bennington and Rutland Counties.
There was a carnival spirit at Wild Wings the day Ski for Heat was there. The ski fanatics among us were thrilled there was finally a bit of snow to cover the ice base that had solidified under the freezing rain and had made for a miserable ski season so far. And everyone was enjoying the sugar high of Laura’s baked treats. But there was also a sense of doing some good – and for such little effort.
None of us could have anticipated the polar vortex that arrived in February, or the avalanche of new snow that now blankets New England, or that we’d be gripped by deep, deep, cold. But Martha Robertson knew long ago that there would always be a need for fuel assistance in Vermont in the winter, and she figured out a way for all of us to help.
Learn more at Ski for Heat.