Beat the Heat, Houston, TX
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 650 people die annually from heat-related causes. Houston, Texas has one of the hottest summers in the country and is one of the cities with the highest Heat Index. For residents of all ages, the extreme hot weather can be fatal, especially so for the disabled and elderly.
On July 14th 2018, Sai volunteers participated in the Beat the Heat Program, a brainchild of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Several volunteers, including Sai Center members, hit the streets in the city to deliver and install air conditioner units for those desperately in need of them. This was truly a Community Engagement Initiative with contributions from the local Lowe’s, American Red Cross (who installed smoke alarms), Washington & Sons AC Service, Central South Carpenters and the Boots and Blues team. The Congresswoman profusely thanked those who generously contributed their time, skills and resources and said, “This is a program that is needed and that is saving lives.”
In 3 hours, twelve Sai volunteers delivered and installed 24 air conditioner units. The volunteers were deeply impacted by the residents they met that day, like 70-year old Mr. Wilson, a retired construction worker. When Sai volunteers visited him, he was sitting forlorn in a dark corner of a dimly lit living room in a small dilapidated home devoid of air conditioning. Within 5 minutes of standing and conversing with him, the volunteers were drenched in sweat. When asked why he did not move into a cooler shelter, he answered that there were many nostalgic memories in the house that was built by his father, a pastor in the 1930's. This was just one of the many moving stories that volunteers heard as they moved from one house to another. It made them realize just how much they take for granted the small comforts of everyday life like air conditioning. They were also moved by Mr. Wilson’s determination to stay in the home due to its sentimental value. Volunteers felt deeply grateful for the blessings in their own life and the opportunity to bring smiles and relief to the people who so desperately needed the cool air.