Programs fighting heat
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Jul 05, 2010 | 1814 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HELPING TO ‘BEAT THE HEAT’ —  The Salvation Army’s “Beat the Heat” campaign is one of at least two area programs helping residents in need. Donors can purchase inexpensive fans and drop them off to the Salvation Army. Meanwhile, the Bradley/Cleveland Community Services Agency is making progress in its Weatherization Assistance Program. Banner photo, MELISSA SNYDER
HELPING TO ‘BEAT THE HEAT’ — The Salvation Army’s “Beat the Heat” campaign is one of at least two area programs helping residents in need. Donors can purchase inexpensive fans and drop them off to the Salvation Army. Meanwhile, the Bradley/Cleveland Community Services Agency is making progress in its Weatherization Assistance Program. Banner photo, MELISSA SNYDER
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Two area programs aimed at helping Bradley Countians survive the summer heat are making an impact as weather forecasters project dry conditions for the rest of the week and rising temperatures that could near triple digits.

The people-friendly, community-need campaigns are being led by The Salvation Army and the Bradley/Cleveland Community Services Agency.

The Salvation Army’s “Beat the Heat” campaign continues its strong start. The program is collecting fans and air conditioners for residents needing assistance from the heat. The initiative operates through public donations in which residents purchase $10 to $20 fans and drop them off to The Salvation Army’s office at 699 17th St. or Cooke’s Food Store.

Those in need of fans may apply for assistance at The Salvation Army location or by calling 339-2907.

“We need assistance from the general and big-hearted public to help make the ‘Beat the Heat’ campaign a success,” according to Ruthie Forgey, Salvation Army sergeant and core director. This year’s summer season has already seen some hot conditions, but the mercury will rise even more this week and probably beyond.

Maj. Jim Lawrence, area commander for The Salvation Army, agreed with Forgey’s assessment and pointed to the longstanding partnership between his organization and the community.

“The Salvation Army has always relied on the generosity of local residents to help us do our work, and we are making a plea at this time for support,” Lawrence told Cleveland Daily Banner staff writer Melissa Snyder in the seasonal program’s original announcement.

It was also pointed out the program is not limited to just fans. Air conditioners and monetary donations are also being accepted. Information may be obtained, and pledges made, by visiting The Salvation Army website at www.csarmy.org.

Another cross-town organization is making a dent in its own community campaign. The Bradley/Cleveland Community Services Agency continues its work on the Weatherization Assistance Program which focuses on keeping area residents cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

According to published reports, the government organization is advancing on its goal of weatherizing 158 area houses in 18 months. This is part of a program initiated by President Barack Obama who announced earlier that $99 million had been set aside for Tennessee’s Weatherization Program. The administration’s declaration came in March 2009.

Since that time, local efforts have been under way making good on the president’s commitment.

Jacqueline Westfield, program coordinator for CSA — a community services operation co-funded through Cleveland City, Bradley County and state and federal money — said the local Weatherization Assistance Program provides more of an all-season approach for area residents. The idea is to upgrade homes to keep the needy residents safe in two temperature extremes — times of heat and cold.

She said locally the weatherization program adds insulation, seals leaks and modernizes heating and air conditioning equipment. Families earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level — about $44,000 per year for a family of four — are eligible to receive up to $6,500 worth of home repairs and upgrades from the program.

By late June, the Bradley County agency had approved 170 applications for weatherization assistance. Additionally, bids have been requested on 138 homes. Another 114 homes have been weatherized using stimulus funds.

Westfield said Bradley County met its target of weatherizing 134 homes by a June 30 deadline. She projected statewide agencies like CSA were on schedule to meet their goals.

The local Community Services Agency has offered the popular weatherization program for many years because of its impact on local families in need. The program works regularly with weatherization contractors who are selected to make the home repairs.

CSA leaders work regularly with low-income families — many of them being elderly who live alone and are on fixed incomes — who can’t afford costly repairs to their heating or cooling systems. This population of residents often doesn’t have family in the immediate area who can check on them regularly; hence, the importance of social-contact programs and agencies like CSA.

Westfield said working with residents in need has been a “tremendous joy” for CSA and its staff because of the benefits they witness in their daily work.