WinterBlitz: Williams College students Weatherize Low-income Homes in the Local Community

June 2010 – By Madeline King and Stephanie Boyd

Project Overview

sallymairsIn 2008 and 2009, Williams College students and community volunteers have weatherized a total of over 75 homes in 3 towns near Williams College during a one-day event in November. Students caulk, install weather stripping, insulate hot water pipes, provide and install CFL bulbs, and sometimes even rake the leaves. The goal of the project is to help low-income homeowners prepare for the winter through making their homes more comfortable and energy efficient, promote community ties, and provide students with an opportunity for learning skills and engaging in community efforts. Many local organizations and Williams College departments support the Winter Blitz program. They help provide training, promotion, information, logistics, materials and tools, and financial resources. Students and volunteers return from their day helping others with renewed energy, new friendships and sense of belonging to their community.


In the fall of 2008, the Williams College Center for Community Engagement expressed an interest in expanding their current weatherization volunteer efforts. Madeline King and Jennifer Rowe, two student leaders in environmental work and community service, took on the task and envisioned “Winter Blitz.” They planned a one-day event with an emphasis on recruiting and involving many students outside and community groups. The first Winter Blitz, in 2008, was considered to be a great success, with over 120 volunteers who weatherized 40 homes in three local towns in the Northern Berkshires. Funding for the program was provided through the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives and a grant from the Henry David Thoreau Foundation. After receiving positive feedback from volunteers and homeowners, the Center for Community Engagement and involved student groups have been working to make Winter Blitz an annual event. Winter Blitz leaders moved forward by strengthening connections with the Williams College Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives and several community development organizations. In 2009, marked the second year of a successful Winter Blitz program.

Project Goals

The goals of this project are:
• to help low-income homeowners prepare for winter with free, basic insulation measures and additional information about support for other energy savings programs and financial assistance.
• to facilitate students interaction with their broader community and to develop leadership skills of the organizers and team leaders of Winter Blitz.
• to provide an opportunity for all members of the Williams community to provide needed assistance in the local community.
• to connect the issues of the environment, poverty, and community development in tangible ways.

Originally written in June 2010 by
Madeline King, Student, Williams College
Stephanie Boyd, Director, Zilkha Center For Environmental Initiatives, Williams College
for submission to AASHE

Other Winter Blitz articles:
iBerkshires in 2009,