June 26, 2013
The Kansas City Health Department has already reported two suspected heat related deaths this year, and the National Weather Service is predicting an extra warm summer for the Midwest.
A number of Kansas City senior citizens live in homes without air conditioning and that lack of air circulation can take its toll.
That’s why the Bishop Sullivan Center is continuing to operate ElderCool, a program geared toward low income senior citizens living without air conditioning. For those who qualify, ElderCool donates and installs a window air conditioning unit, all for free. In addition, each senior receives a credit of $100 in his or her electric accounts to accommodate the extra cost of operating the air conditioner.
“What we found out early on is that people would put in the air conditioner but not run it because they were afraid of the extra electricity bill they would encounter,” said Angela Jonas, officer manager at the Bishop Sullivan Center.
The summer before the Bishop Sullivan Center founded ElderCool, Kansas City reported 21 heat related deaths in 1999.
“We started the program in 2000 in response to those heat related deaths,” Jonas said. “We were looking for a way to help the community.”
To date, ElderCool has installed more than 5,000 window units.
One recent recipient, a 70-year-old recovering from lung cancer, said she was grateful for the program.
“It helps me breathe better,” she said. “I appreciate it very much.”
This year, A.B. May and Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pastas have partnered with ElderCool and have each agreed to donate $10,000 toward a $20,000 match fund for contributions. Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pastas will also give a free sandwich coupon for any donation over $50.
To find out if you or someone you know qualifies, or to make a donation, call Kim at the Bishop Sullivan Center, (816) 231-0984.