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Gainesville fan program eases seniors swelter
Donated devices help residents stay cool, lower bills
0717heat 1
Lillian Smith uses her fan every day to avoid high electric bills. The Gainesville-Hall County Senior Life Center gave her the fan about a month ago after her old one broke. Smith said she runs the air conditioner to cool down her mobile home, then turns it off and turns the fan on. - photo by NAT GURLEY

To acquire a fan, call the Senior Life Center at 770-503-3331 or email


How to endure summer’s worst:
• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Limit intake of alcohol and beverages high in sugar.
• Wear lightweight clothing
• Close the blinds in your home away from direct sunlight
• If you don’t have air conditioning, stay on the lowest floor of your residence or go to a public building such as a library, school, movie theater or shopping mall.
• Eat regular meals that are well-balanced and light.
• Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.
• Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.

Sources: Gloria Wilms, Senior Life Center coordinator; Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services 

Gainesville residents are trying to find ways of keeping cool in the summer heat that won’t empty their wallets.

For older members of the community, the Senior Life Center offers a Beat the Heat fan program to save them money on their electricity bills.

“It’s a very simple program to help people stay cool and refreshed during our hottest months of the year,” Phillippa Lewis Moss said.

The Community Service Center director said the program serves adults older than 60 who live in Hall County who are typically on a fixed income.

“There are lots of older adults in our community who have air conditioning and are very conscious about the high cost of electricity and so they frequently like to use fans in a concentrated area of their homes so they don’t have to run their air conditioning unit,” she said.

There are also seniors who opt for fans because their homes are older and not equipped with air conditioning. This program is especially important for them, she said.

“As you know, temperatures can get really hot in our homes, and older adults are particularly vulnerable to heat illnesses like heatstroke.”

The Senior Life Center has also made an effort to provide heat relief by opening its air-conditioned center to the public.

“In past years we have opened the doors at the Senior Life Center to not just older adults, but to people in general, during particularly hot summer months,” Moss said.

Though other heat relief programs have been tried, Beat the Heat is still one of the most popular, she said. It has already given out 44 fans since June and gotten cash and fan donations from businesses around Gainesville.

Senior center member Cheryl Carter said she couldn’t be happier about the community involvement with the program.

“I think it’s great, people volunteering to bring the fans in,” Carter said.

A member of the center for the past eight years, she finally got just the fan she wanted, she said.

“I got one this year — the one that rotates back and forth,” Carter said. “I keep it right in my living room. I’ve been waiting for a long time for one of them.”

Lillian Smith, senior center member since February, was excited when she heard about Beat the Heat, she said.

“I needed a fan and didn’t have any money to get one,” Smith said. “When I learned about the fan program, I thought I could get one.”

The program was a simple solution and has helped reduce her electricity bill, she said.

“It was easy,” said Smith. “I just walked in and got it. It helped me out a lot, and I thank God for it.”

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