It is hard to believe it's already June but the calendar and the Arizona temperatures don’t lie.
I am fortunate enough to be sitting in my camper in northern Arizona at the moment, surrounded by beautiful Ponderosa pines, but my thoughts are with those who are struggling to keep cool while the temps soar.
Yesterday evening one of our RTVOS team members received a cry for help from her neighbor Jackie who is living without air conditioning. She went to Jackie’s home to deliver a service application and see how we could help. By the time she left the house, she was on the verge of heat exhaustion. Can you imagine having to endure those conditions on a continuous basis?
I can’t. Yet I know hundreds of Arizona seniors are in the same position as Jackie, with budgets so limited they barely have enough to eat. HVAC repairs, or any home repairs for that matter, are completely beyond their reach. And it frustrates me that I can’t help every single person who calls.
We were able to help Jackie with a temporary solution, but what happens next year? And the year after that? And what about the hundreds of others who need help?
As others in the country brace themselves for the possibility of hurricanes, tornados, and floods, Arizonans prepare for the heat we know is coming. But heat isn’t considered a natural disaster like those other events, even though it kills more people every year.
In Arizona, we try to take care of the many homeless people here during the summer by erecting cooling stations and giving away water, but most people give little thought to those who are suffering inside the stifling walls of their homes. Out of sight, out of mind.
That may sound harsh, but it is true. When was the last time you stepped into an impoverished home and tried to alleviate the unhealthy living conditions? Have you thought about offering to make home repairs for your elderly neighbor? When you turn your thermoset down a notch, do you think about the people who don’t have that option?
Jackie’s is one of many requests we will receive as the temperature climbs. And like every summer, I will go to bed at night and wake up in the morning trying to find some way to help these people with our limited resources. But I know we will only be able to help a fraction of those in need. And I hope those without cool air can make it through one more summer because maybe I will have the resources to help them next year. But I know some will not survive the heat.
And I am haunted.