Community Action Agency of St. Louis County rescues elderly from bitter cold

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The bitter cold weather is especially hard on the elderly.

A St. Louis County not-for-profit that gets millions in federal funding has programs to help St. Louis County residents, especially the elderly, survive the bitter cold.

The Community Action Agency of St. Louis County gets some $4 million for a weatherization program and a low-income housing energy assistance program. It helps some 50,000 people.

The agency was critical to senior citizens like Linda Douglas and her husband Clifford. Linda says the agency stepped in when their furnace went out.

Dangerous cold to continue through Wednesday morning

“Yes, it was important for us,” said Linda. “The furnace went out. When they came out to look at it, they said I need a new furnace, and they gave me a new furnace.”

Linda talks about the challenges facing senior citizens.

“A lot of them are over 75, and they’re fragile. They don’t have any family, and they just bundle up in their house to stay warm because they don’t’ have any place else to go besides their home, and they don’t want to leave their home.”

She continued, “A lot of seniors have been in their homes for 30, 40, or 50 years, and they don’t want to leave their homes. They just stay there.”

Clifford says the agency stepped in just in the nick of time.

“Thank God for this organization because they come in and what they’re actually doing is rescuing people,” said Clifford. “They’re rescuing people from a horrible situation.“

Linda Huntspon. the CEO of the Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, explained more about the organization’s mission.

“Literally, it can be life or death, and the thing about that generation [the elderly] is many of them are very prideful,” said Huntspon. “So they like to leave resources and think that they’re leaving them for maybe young folks or people who are in more need than themselves, and many times they’re referred to as the silent generation for that reason.”

She continued, “They are reluctant. They survived many other hardships, so they think that they can turn on a space heater or a stove, and literally, we know that that’s not safe. It’s dangerous for the appliance. It’s also dangerous for them. By the time they realize they’re freezing or suffering from hypothermia, it often can be too late.”

The agency says they treat their clients like family, adding that when they don’t hear from them in awhile, they call to make sure everything is okay, especially in freezing cold weather like what’s transpired the last few days.


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