ST. LOUIS (June 1, 2018) – To help keep seniors, the physically disabled and low-income families safer from the heat this spring and summer, Ameren Missouri donated today 500 window air conditioners to Cooldownstlouis.org, a regional not-for-profit public education and resource charity, and several other entities, which will distribute them to physically disabled and elderly Ameren Missouri customers throughout eastern Missouri. This is the 13th year that Ameren Missouri has sponsored the giveaway.
Ameren Missouri also donated to Cooldownstlouis.org supplemental utility funds in the amount of $200,000 for grants to qualified area residents at risk in the upcoming months.
Today Ameren volunteers, the St. Louis Fire Department, social service agencies, Cooldownstlouis officials and area TV meteorologists helped prepare the donated units for distribution, to an already large waiting list of qualified seniors and physically disabled clients.
“Cooldownstlouis.org again is working with Ameren Missouri to keep the most vulnerable individuals and families cool and healthy this summer," said Michael Moehn, president of Ameren Missouri. "That’s why Ameren Missouri is pleased to donate 500 window air-conditioners to Cooldownstlouis.org as well as $200,000 to the charity to improve the safety for seniors, disabled and low-income customers.”
Moehn thanked area TV meteorologists for participating in this summer kick-off program, and further stressed that Ameren was pleased about the Coodownstlouis.org Check On Your Neighbor public awareness project, which it also sponsored their community outreach cooling cards that connect to area churches and social service organizations. The Ameren’s Budget Billing Program, which the charity and advocacy group also endorsed, can take some heat off of some of the 1.2 million Ameren customer bills in communities throughout the state.
“The official start of summer is a few weeks away, but already many of our elderly and disabled neighbors across the bi-state area are suffering through some hot and humid conditions, without an A/C or utility service. This could become a life-threatening crisis. KSDK 5 On Your Side has been supportive of Cooldownstlouis.org since its inception 18 years ago,” said Craig Moeller, Chief Meteorologist, KSDK 5 On Your Side. “We’re happy to use our forecasts to promote and alert our viewers of the important role this charity and their partners play, in keeping our community safe. And being on your side, means helping people during the extreme heat.”
The air conditioners are ENERGY STAR®-certified units that meet the strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. They cost approximately 75 cents per day to operate. Eligible recipients (seniors and people with physically disabilities only) will be selected by Cooldownstlouis.org and its partner agencies, which uses age and certain medical circumstances to determine qualification for air-conditioners. However, utility assistance this summer also is based also on income eligibility.
“Needy neighbors can always depend on Cooldownstlouis.org. It continues to be that regional safety net providing that essential clarion call for utility assistance, donated energy efficient air-conditioners and such community-outreach projects, like Check On Your Neighbors,” said St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, an honorary chair of Cooldownstlouis.org, representing other regional and state leaders. “I got to stress that government can’t do it all. While St. Louis City also partners with the regional charity, the reality is it takes a village to keep our seniors, the disabled and low-income families healthy and safe each summer with resources. I’m asking for the generosity of the public to join our village in trying to save lives; and give to Cooldownstlouis.org or donate a new or slightly used, working A/C through Vatterott.”
The annual giveaway, and summer roll out of the Cooldownstlouis.org S.O.S. (Save Our Senior) campaign is supported by Michael Moehn, chairman and president of Ameren Missouri; St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson; St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, who also represents the Greater St. Louis Area Fire Chiefs Association; Rev. Earl E. Nance, Jr., Cooldownstlouis.org board emeritus; and Michael P. McMillan, president/CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis; Rene Crosswhite, president/CEO of Vatterott Colleges; popular television meteorologists, Chris Higgins, FOX2/KPLR 11; KMOV’s Kent Ehrhardt and KSDK’s 5 On Your Side Craig Moeller, Scott Connell, Chester Lampkin and Jessica Quick; and Melanie DiLeo, board chairwoman, Cooldownstlouis.org.
“One of the greatest fears that our highly trained EMS crew and firefighters have is during summer months, when we arrive to an apartment or home emergency, they’re going to discover a deceased senior or physically disabled person, with a fan just blowing. Most area fire chiefs consider these donated Ameren A/Cs, and those being donated by the public at any Vatterott, a life-preserver,” said Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, Fire Chiefs Association of Greater St. Louis, co-chair Health & Safety Committee, Cooldownstlouis.org. “Ameren, Vatterott, and the incredible St. Louis meteorologists – can’t do it alone. We need the public’s generosity by going online to Cooldownstlouis.org.” Chief Jenkerson stressed don’t forget to physically check on your own seniors and disabled relatives, and make sure their A/C is on and working in days like these.”
If a senior or person with physical disabilities needs assistance, please visit the Cooldownstlouis.org website or call the organization’s automated senior hotline at 1-314-241-7668. Funds are available on a first-come basis to those who qualify. The public can also make secured donations online, or send donations to Cool Down St. Louis, c/o UMB Bank, P.O. Box 868, St. Louis, MO 63188. 100% of all public donations go towards servicing the qualified needy Missouri and Illinois neighbors.
"Summer time weather has arrived early in St. Louis and we all know it can be downright dangerous at times, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Many seniors, the physically disabled and small sick infants can easily fall victim to heat-related illnesses, if they do not have a functioning A/C or their utilities have been disconnected,” said Chris Higgins, Meteorologist, FOX2/KPLR 11. For 18 years, FOX2 and KPLR 11 have been working alongside Cooldownstlouis.org to echo its public education message to check on your neighbors; while also appealing for donations. Today’s generous gift of hundreds of A/C units and a huge cash donation by Ameren will help keep the most vulnerable of our community cool and safe this summer.”
Along with making a donation valued at about $100,000 in 500 energy efficient window units, and $200,000 in utility assistance, Ameren Missouri also provided critically important maintenance instructions, a registry application for elderly and disabled customers with each unit, including Cooldownstlouis.org cooling tips and outreach assistance cards.
“That old saying that the St. Louis region’s weather is unpredictable often rings true. During the dangerously turbulent spring and summer weather KMOV and the 4Warn Storm team bring extensive years of meteorology expertise, so that our warnings inform the viewers, so that they can prepare themselves. And having partners like Cooldownstlouis.org with additional resources when the sun can actually fry an egg on a side walk is critically important,” said Meteorologist, Kent Ehrhardt, KMOV, Channel 4. “The volunteer charity provides year-around utility assistance in about 15 Missouri and Illinois counties with its many consortium partners. Today Ameren has come on board as a good neighbor in an effort to keep area seniors and the disabled neighbors alive, healthy and connected."
As part of the Cooldownstlouis.org S.O.S. project, officials are reminding other area corporations and the public that they too can donate a new or slightly used air conditioner (no less than two years old) to the regional charity by dropping off a unit at any Vatterott College campus for a tax deduction. More information and locations are available at Cooldownstlouis.org.
“Each summer, our St. Louis Vatterott campuses look forward to the public’s generosity and partnering with Cooldownstlouis.org. Today, we congratulate Ameren on its significant donation of 500 Energy Star A/C units to kick-off the Save Our Seniors campaign,” said Rene Crosswhite, president/CEO of Vatterott. “So many of our neighbors throughout the bi-state area cannot afford to purchase an A/C unit. A working A/C window unit is a vital and essential lifeline in maintaining health and safety during hot summer days and we at Vatterott are so grateful for the opportunity to give back to our community.”
The Clergy Coalition of Metropolitan St. Louis; City/County human services, area fire departments and health departments have been asked to distribute informational cooling card tips to thousands of area residents who are also seeking utility assistance, as part of the S.O.S. outreach.
“I always like to stress that it takes a village of all-types of resources to keep the hundreds among hundreds of seniors, physically disabled and needy families with small sick infants cool, healthy and safe each summer,” said Michael P. McMillan, President and CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. “The Cooldownstlouis.org/Ameren partnership is a dynamic force that continues to benefit many who are making tough financial choices in the heat of the day, and the heat of the night, and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is a proud partner of their efforts, and we’re speaking also for other social service partners in Missouri and Illinois.”
Last year, Cooldownstlouis.org distributed about 1,000 donated air conditioners thanks to Ameren Missouri and the public through Vatterott, etc. Since its inception however, the all-volunteer summer charity has distributed more than 12,500 units.
‘’There are people throughout the St. Louis region who can’t -- they can’t pay for the medication, rent, transportation, and yes not even basic groceries. And even though Ameren’s utility rates are considered some of the most affordable in the Midwest, many seniors and physically disabled neighbors refuse to turn on their air-conditioners, and they are the ones who get nervous, and those are primarily the lives we try to save, during our often hot, humid and potentially deadly summers,” said Melanie DiLeo, board chairwoman, Cooldownstlouis.org. So, we encourage you to KEEP ON THE AIR.”
Along with promoting heat safety and the importance of running an air conditioner during the hot summer months, Ameren Missouri invites customers to learn about its energy efficiency programs, which offer rebates to replace inefficient air conditioner units and a variety of other programs that help customers save energy and money. More information is available at AmerenMissouri.com/rebates.
“We’re appealing to adults, to remind them, who are taking care of their older relatives, or a neighbor, please check on them to see if the air-conditioner is on and working. Make sure they maintain their units by cleaning out the filters for them,” said Rev. Earl E. Nance, Jr., chair emeritus. “So, your utility bills don’t necessarily sizzle, we highly recommend Ameren Budget Billing plan. Even if an elderly person thinks they can’t pay an Ameren bill this summer, contact us, but keep the air conditioners on. We’re proud to distribute these gifts of lives, so seniors and physically disabled qualified residents can have a cool, pleasurable and safe summer.”
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company's electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri's mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 130,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company's service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.