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Open Hearth Sells Wood, Warms Homes

By Jeff Cohen

November 02, 2011

Power is still out in much of the state. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, one Hartford agency is making the most of it.

There's a line of cars nearly two-dozen deep just waiting off Maxim Road. Not for gas...those lines are shorter now. These people are waiting for wood.

"This is unbelievable."

That's Bill Williams. He manages the wood yard for Open Hearth, a shelter and transitional living agency for men. The proceeds from the wood sales fund the agency's programs.

"I mean we've sold more wood in three days than we did almost in three years. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. They just keep coming."

"Monday morning when we got here they were lined up like that there and it's been like that everyday from seven to four."

About a dozen men are stacking wood into pre-set racks, and then loading that wood into waiting cars. Joe Willis came in his pickup with two grandkids to get the wood to heat his house in Vernon.

Willis: I really never seen it like this before. It was funny, too. I had texted my wife and told her it was like a gas line.

Cohen: And you heat your house with your fireplace?

Willis: No, this is just...

Cohen: You don't have any power...

Willis: I don't have any power. Everybody's staying around the fireplace.

Cohen: Do you normally buy this much wood in a year?

Willis: No, I got my grandkids come over and stuff like that so it's...thanks, bro...really, it's a necessity.

Rossetti: Marilyn Rossetti, executive director of the Open Hearth.

Cohen: How much money do you think you've brought in?

Rossetti: I don't want to say but it's a lot. Do you see how big the smile is on my face? And you know, we've had some funding and cash flow problems -- we don't right now.

Cohen: So this is the brighter side...

Rossetti: This is the brighter side of a really crappy situation for a lot of people, myself included. I don't have power, a lot my staff who you saw inside, they don't have power. But we're coming in every day and we're doing our job.

Eventually, Rossetti put it this way. They made almost as much money on Monday and Tuesday after the storm as they did for the entire month of October.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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