Helping Residents Survive the Heat

This summer, our Resident Service Coordinators have worked overtime to provide life-saving critical services to residents during multiple heat waves. Resident Service Coordinators Marie and Spenser shared their experiences in recent interviews:

Marie, Asset Specialist for the Resident Services Team

What have you been doing to help our residents cope with the historic heat this summer?

We at Resident Services have put out cooling center info in relation to the county that the residents live in, when we have it. This also includes tips on staying cool and we dropped off Gatorade, Powerades and other drinks with electrolytes. 

We’ve also informed Property Managers and gave them the updated Cooling Center info. This includes teling them about vulnerable seniors who we either know or believe don’t have a support system or a way to get to the store.

What do you think would be helpful for residents during future summers?

I think being able to get ACs in every resident’s unit would be a great way to go, whether they are standalone units or window units. One of my concerns with this is that we would have to make sure that we install ACs that can stay with the units. I have heard from the maintenance techs that after the summer is over, residents throw away their ACs because they have no place to store them and the property doesn’t let them stay in all year round. I feel getting ACs into every unit is crucial but we have to find a way to make sure they don’t get thrown out at the end of the hot season.

Why are you drawn to this work?

I have been a “social worker” my entire career- I have worked as a Juvenile Probation Officer, I have worked as a Correctional Counselor, I have worked in Child Protective Services, I have worked with interns trying to get into the work force as a means to diversify work forces and now as a Resident Service Coordinator. 

What can I say – working with people to better their lives is in my blood.  I love the work I do for NHA as I am no longer the bad guy.  I believe that someone has to be on the “ground floor” to see what is happening and to try to make changes that will benefit people.  After 7 years, I can still say I love my job. The only difference now is that I actually know what I am doing and have doubled up and tripled up on resources for residents.  I can’t see myself doing anything else. 

Spenser, Resident Services Coordinator

What have you been doing to help our residents cope with the historic heat this summer?

We opened up the community room at the Oak during days over 90 degrees, to have the AC on blast and cold drinks for residents to stay hydrated. The mask mandate was put on hold as well, since it wasn’t enforceable due to possible breathing and heart issues for our older more medically declining residents, though most if not all continued to wear masks.

I also went to a few different units to help ensure that fans/AC units were working for those that had them.

Weekend work was a must.

What do you think would be most helpful for them in the future?

I agree with Marie about receiving AC units. Even our old AC unit, which only goes to the office and community room has shut down from excessive use. We now have no community air cooling devices and it is very hot and stuffy even in the basement, which means we cannot have the space open to triage overheating residents.

Why are you drawn to this work/why is it important?

I have lived experience with a multitude of catalysts that statistically keep people from rising above, “survival-mode,” and active trauma states. I have lost family due to catalyzing symptoms of mental-illness (and isolation from community/services), chemical-dependency, homelessness and incarceration. I grew up in a family experiencing all of these while also having foster brothers and sisters come and go.

I have been in the field for 11 years and before that worked as a mentor and leader in multiple community agencies for at risk youth. I’ve worked in secure medical facilities, with incarcerated youth and adults on parole/probation, initiated Pathways at NHA, transitional housing and ultimately permanent supportive and supported housing. I believe housing and community to be the most important factors in a persons overall health and a basic human right.