No More Gaps

Photo of Jerry and Gwendolyn Jerry and Gwendolyn were both really happy about their home being weatherized.

The 200 mile drive to Whiteriver, AZ from Phoenix typically takes about 3.5 hours. This depends on if you take the northern or southern route — and whether you get behind a truck or RV climbing its way through elevation. Both routes will take you through the Tonto National Forest, but only one will take you through the magnificent scenery of Salt River Canyon.

Our drivers and staff make the trip to the community of Whiteriver on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation on a regular basis. In late October, one of the staff traveled to the Whiteriver Elderly Center to check the status of the Weatherization service being conducted in Elders' homes. One of the staff from the center, Anna, took us to visit with some of the Elders. We connected with the volunteer, Alonzo, who was installing the plastic and stripping.

Cornelia was the first Elder we visited. She lived by herself and was really excited about the weatherization service. She had three windows, but two of them were broken, along with the window in the back door. These cracks allowed the cold air to come in. Drafts leaked through the bottom of the same door as well. One of the windows to be covered was where Cornelia enjoyed sitting at while she sewed. She was most excited about that window being weatherized with the clear plastic. She said this was, “so I can still enjoy the view outside and the sun shining through.” Her children had moved away and were unable to help with these repairs. She was on a fixed income, so it limited her ability to pay to get them fixed. We watched as Alonzo demonstrated how to install the film. Anna and Cornelia both enjoyed the warmth by the fireplace and giggled as we installed the stripping along her windows and door.

Photo of Christine Christine is one of the many Elders who received home delivery meals.

On the next visit, we were introduced to Jerry and Gwendolyn. They had been married for over 50 years and had lived in the same home for over 40 years. They were both really happy about their home being weatherized. Other family members lived in the home and shared the front room. It included the three windows and two doors that were weatherized. The couple had a small kitchen table by the window where Jerry liked to sit to enjoy his hot coffee and stay warm by the fireplace. One of the sliding windows had been broken for a while, but they weren't able to replace it. They had been living with a draft for quite a while.

Jerry said it was nice to enjoy his coffee without having the cold air come in the window, yet still be able to see out of the window. Additional latex caulk was put around a door that had gaps which allowed a lot of cold air in. Both doors had door sweeps installed to keep the draft where it belonged… outside! Gwendolyn said, “Thank you for the window film, it helps stop the wind from coming in!”

Another visit brought us to the home of Christine. She was one of the nearly 200 Elders who received home delivery meals from the center. Christine dealt with dementia, but fortunately had a home care worker assigned to her and received support from her granddaughter. Her bedroom window was broken and only had a few pieces of glass on the top window frame remaining. The plastic made a big difference in her bedroom. The home care worker shared that they just had the home heater fixed and the weatherization would help keep the cold air out and the warm air in. They were also pleased that the clear plastic still allowed the sun to come in. They really couldn't tell there was plastic unless they looked really closely.

The average low temperature of 23 degrees was typical in December and January in Whiteriver. Snow fell just after Thanksgiving and the lowest temperature this season was on January 26th at 5 degrees that night. Getting homes weatherized before the temperatures plummeted was important not only to keep Elders warm, but to keep the warmth in their homes where it belonged.

Thank you for helping to make this service possible!

Our Mission: Serving immediate needs. Supporting long-term solutions.
Our Vision: Strong, self-sufficient Native American communities.

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