On a hot summer day, HAPCAP received a call from a donor in Central Ohio. A Columbus organization had mobilized to distribute fans to help with the extreme heat and he wanted to do the same for families in Southeast Ohio. “I’m going to send you a check today,” he said, “I want you to use it to help as many people as you can.”
Through quick coordination with emergency assistance staff members, fans were ordered and plans for distribution were made. Recipients included Head Start families and Meals of Wheels clients. The agency also established a partnership with the Athens County Children Services Peanut Butter and Jelly project to provide fans to those families. In all, 66 families received a fan to help cope with the extreme heat we’ve experienced this summer.
Donations like these allow us to reach families who need help but may not qualify through other programs like the federally funded Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program. This program provides one-time assistance with electric bills, central air conditioning repairs, and cooling equipment purchases (like air conditioning units or fans). To qualify households must have a member either 60 years of age and older, certified medical condition, enroll in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) for the first time or have a PIPP default, disconnect notice, service disconnection, or who are trying to establish new service. Applications for assistance opened on July 1. In the first month, HAPCAP processed requests for 364 households. That’s an average of 18 applications a day!
Hot August temperatures will likely keep our dedicated Summer Crisis team busy through the end of the program on September 30. But the hard work is worth it for the families struggling to stay cool. The program provides more than comfort; it prevents heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke and helps those suffering from chronic conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease that can be aggravated by the heat.
As each year seems to bring more days of extreme heat, HAPCAP will continue to look for ways to provide relief for those in need through public-sector support and the generosity of our donors.