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In today’s society, most people have grown up living with air conditioning. However, as temperatures and humidity continues to rise in southwest Missouri this week, some people in our community don’t have that luxury. As KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports, one local homeless shelter is doing all it can to keep its residents cool, and is asking the community to help out.
“I’m standing outside the Missouri Hotel; it’s a place known for housing single females, couples, and families suffering from poverty and homelessness. It’s about ten in the morning, and already the sun is beating down on me, and the excessive heat is making it more difficult to move and to breathe comfortably. As I move inside the Missouri Hotel, which is a branch of The Kitchen, there really isn’t much relief from the heat, and it’s due to the lack of air conditioning units in here. This week, the temperatures are predicted to rise even more, and the heat index is supposed to be over 100 degrees. Because of this, the shelter is crying out to the community to donate box fans and other items that might bring some relief from the sweltering heat.”
“It is extremely hot upstairs.”
That’s Theresa Oglesby, the Coordinator of Resident Services for the Kitchen, Inc.
“This year, we are going into the hot season with not enough fans for every room. So at night, even during the day it’s hot, but at night imagine when it doesn’t cool down, there’s no relief from the heat at all.”
She said the Kitchen is also trying to gather fans for people throughout the community who don’t have air conditioning. She says some residents stay here a few nights, and then go back to their housing units. Typically, those are not air conditioned, either.
“We’re also looking at without having fans on hand, we’re not able to help people in the community either—the elderly, people with young children or may have illnesses without air conditioning in the community, so it’s a two-fold need.”
During the day, residents do have the opportunity to escape the worst of the heat. In a press release from the Kitchen, Inc., CEO Rorie Orgeron said that the first floor of the Missouri Hotel does provide air conditioning in certain rooms and common areas. It’s the night time that brings the worst problems.
Oglesby wants people to think about what it would be like to try and sleep in these extreme conditions.
“Just imagine shutting off the AC in their house and opening the windows and trying to sleep that night. It is difficult to get comfortable whenever the heat indices get up to 105 and 108, especially if there’s no air moving. It is extremely uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous.”
Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration, and other chances of heat related illness significantly increase when people are exposed to such temperatures, especially people on medication, like some residents at the Missouri Hotel.
Both Oglesby and Orgeron agree that box fans are the primary need at the shelter right now. They prefer the box fans because they are safer than the tower or rotating fans.
Also, they say cash donations are appreciated, and can be used by the shelter to buy both fans and other items that are needed.
The Missouri Hotel can hold up to 250 residents at one time. Currently, the entire shelter is full, with a waiting list of 258 people. For more information, or to donate a fan, you can contact the shelter at www.thekitcheninc.org or by phone at 837-1540.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.