Heat Up Wisconsin gives warmth to local families in need

Heat Up Wisconsin gives warmth to local families in need

For most Wisconsin families, a heated house is an afterthought during the state’s notoriously cold winters. Without a working furnace or other heating device, however, some people are left out in the cold.

Nonprofit Heat Up Wisconsin is looking to lower the number of families who experience the stress of a faulty furnace by giving a free one to families in need across the state.

In Aimee and Mike Solheim’s case, their furnace worked, but it wasn’t likely to stay that way for long.

“Our furnace is really old and we knew it’d need replacing,” Aimee Solheim said. “Our neighbor nominated us for Heat Up Wisconsin, he knows that we’ve had some financial troubles in the past.”

A family from Middleton with four kids, the Solheims had a new furnace and air conditioner installed Saturday by employees from All Comfort Services in Madison.

Heat Up Wisconsin partners with local businesses, who provide the equipment and labor, taking nominations from community members to find families in need. The organization looks for those in dire financial need or people with a history of civic or military service.

“The (Solheims) have given a lot to their community,” Caryn Rader, an employee of All Comfort Services, said. “They’re teachers and we just felt they were a very deserving family.”

Heat Up Wisconsin was started in 2010, and gives around 80 furnaces a year to people across Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan. A sister organization, Heat Up Minnesota, started this year as well.

Those involved hope the idea spreads to other states, especially in the Midwest.

“To know that somebody nominated you to receive this at no cost to you, not only is it a warm feeling, meaning you’re literally going to be warm throughout the winter, but knowing someone appreciates what you do means a lot,” Rader said.