Crisis Averted

Shortly after Christmas, RSVP received a call from Pearl, an elderly lady in her 70’s and Ed, a disabled vet who is on dialysis. It was minus 26 degrees that morning, and their year-old furnace was not working. Pearl had shut all the doors in the house and was sleeping in a chair in the kitchen near the cook stove. Pearl and Ed, humble people of little means, needed urgent help getting the heat going again.

Within eight minutes of talking to Pearl, I sent an “urgent” voice message to all 1033 RSVP volunteers asking for help. TWENTY SEVEN volunteers responded to the call, including Todd who said he was a certified furnace repairman. He insisted “I’m the man for the job. My tool bag is in my hand and I’m ready to go. Just tell me where!”

When I called Pearl back to say that Todd was on his way, she said she had a splitting headache and perhaps the volunteer should not come right now. Recognizing one sign of carbon monoxide poisoning, I convinced Pearl that she really needed to let the volunteer help. Pearl agreed and within five minutes, Todd was at her door.

The volunteer replaced the defective thermostat, freed a jammed blower motor and, most importantly, modified an exhaust vent blocked by dripping ice. Heat was restored, and a crisis was averted. 1033 RSVP volunteers were inspired that one of their own had again stepped up to the plate to help a neighbor in need. As a side note, Todd has “adopted” Pearl as someone that he will be checking on regularly.

Later, I received the following letter from a long time RSVP volunteer who, while she did not directly respond to the urgent need, got the call for help and the subsequent call that the need had been handled.

"What a wonderful service you are providing for all senior residents of this area--a unique service that could potentially save lives. When the call came in requesting furnace repair service, I thanked the Lord for you! Then to receive your call that help was on the way for Pearl gave me another reason to be thankful that I live in such a wonderful community. God’s blessing in the New Year. Bonnie"

-Mike Koechler