Students insulate local homes

by Kascha Semon | 11/25/97 6:00am

Students take warmth for granted on even the coldest New Hampshire day, but Nancy Bloomfield '99 and Courtney Jacobs '98 spend their Saturdays giving heat to Upper Valley residents who aren't so fortunate.

Bloomfield and Jacobs lead Operation Insulation, a Tucker Foundation volunteer project created to weatherize homes in the Upper Valley.

According to Jacobs, Operation Insulation is the only basic weatherizing service in the area and they receive numerous requests for help from lower-income area residents.

The group is composed of a core of eight to 10 Dartmouth students who work with professional carpenter Simon Davis to insulate homes, build roofs, skirt trailers and perform any other tasks clients request.

Every Saturday, students go to the homes of residents who have requested help and meet the LISTEN Center's criteria for aid. LISTEN is an acronym for Lebanon In Service to Each Neighbor.

With Davis's help, they evaluate what work needs to be done and what materials are necessary. Contact with the community around Dartmouth encourages the volunteers to rise early every Saturday.

"In Hanover, you're pretty much limited to a population of the same age, the same socio-economic background and similar interests, but there are other people that make up the region we live in," Bloomfield said.

Volunteers are currently working in Orford on a project which will probably continue until the spring. An experienced professional carpenter started to build his own house, but was hindered by a debilitating injury.

In this case, the group is not only providing the resident with heat, but, as Jacobs said, "Part of this is a mental project to help him complete his goals."

In addition to assuming responsibility as co-coordinators, Bloomfield and Jacobs have expanded the educational aspect of the service with a "tool library" located at the LISTEN center.

Clients can check out boxes of tools, complete with caulking guns and how-to manuals compiled by Bloomfield and Jacobs for basic weatherizing for themselves.

Due to the sheer amount of work that needs to be done, Bloomfield says it is important for people to access the service themselves.

A dinner will be held at an Enfield church to publicize the library in the hope that more people will take advantage of the tool boxes.

Volunteers solicit donations from campus organizations such as fraternities and sororities, and receive matching grants from the Norwich Congregational Church.

Although Operation Insulation currently includes Dartmouth students only, Dennis plans to expand the program into COVER (Community Of Volunteers Effecting Repair) Corps, which would draw support from area residents.

The group was founded in 1991, but struggled to stay alive until 1995, when new leadership and members rejuvenated the project.