As temperatures rise, so does community support

Local non-profit launches collaborative "Be Cool, Tucson" program and invites community support to repair evaporative coolers for neighbors at risk in the summer heat.

 

It was 107 degrees outside on June 14, 2014, when the evaporative cooler on Mary’s trailer finally gave up for good. Mary and her husband, Steve, bought this trailer after years of experiencing homelessness; if the heat drives them out of this trailer, they’ll be homeless once again. As the temperature inside their home rose, Mary called CHRPA.

The CDC identifies extreme heat as a major source of concern that can lead to heat stress, heat stroke, and serious illness – and an effective home cooling system is the number one way to prevent these dangers. The elderly, people with chronic medical conditions, and young children are particularly at risk for heat-related sicknesses. In Pima County, this extra-vulnerable population includes more than 63,000 children under 5 living in poverty.  Often, low-income families and individuals do not have the resources available to fix their cooling system if it breaks.

Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona (CHRPA), is a Tucson-based non-profit with a 34-year history of serving low-income homeowners: people working hard to make ends meet, people living on the edge of security, neighbors in need. When something goes wrong at the height of summer’s heat, a call to CHRPA is sometimes the only option.

The day after Mary called CHRPA, a team of staff and volunteers arrived at her home to remove the broken cooler and install a donated unit. Mary was overjoyed that the over-100 degree temps outside would no longer be hazardous to her health. “We had given up on having a cooler this summer,” she said, “This has made us both happy to be alive.”

Repairing broken evaporative coolers is a simple task that can make a huge difference in the lives of at-risk community members. With a small staff and a rotating corps of volunteers, CHRPA was able to complete 350 cooler repairs in 2014 for people like Mary and Steve. Launching April 11th, the Be Cool, Tucson program will expand the agency’s work. CHRPA, supported by the Office of the Mayor of the City of Tucson, and joined by individuals and companies across the Tucson metro area, plan to complete 500 cooler repairs in 2015. To find out how to get involved, or make a financial or material donation, visit CHRPA’s website (www.chrpaz.org) or call their office at 745-2055.

Notes: CDC info on extreme heat from http://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showClimateChangeExtremeHeat.action

Population info from www.arizonaindicators.org