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 For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 5

Home State Health Plan Cools Down St. Louis With $20,000 and Drops-Off 25 Brand New Air-Conditioners; Unveils “Keep On The Air,” Project for Seniors and Disabled

For several weeks now Vatterott College and Cool Down St. Louis officials continue to request that the general public drop-off new and slightly used air conditioners this summer at any Vatterott College location in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.

On Monday, the Home State Health Plan of Clayton announced a gift of twenty-five (25) brand new air-conditioners and a donation of $20,000 to Cool Down St. Louis, a regional, not-for-profit utility assistance and public education charity. The gifts were presented by Shannon Bagley, President and CEO of Home State Health Plan, at the Vatterott NorthPark campus in North County, as part of a new Cool Down St. Louis project entitled “Keep On the Air,” which is targeted at area seniors and the disabled people, who live alone.

"Working to keep St. Louis families healthy is at the heart of what we do at Home State Health Plan. That is why we're teaming up with Cool Down St. Louis to address the cooling needs of St. Louis families," said Shannon Bagley President and CEO of Home State Health Plan. "It is an honor for Home State to help, and we call on other St. Louis citizens to stand with us, as we address the needs of people during these dangerous record high temperatures."

Officials of the regional charity covering about 16 Missouri and Illinois counties including the City of St. Louis has embarked on a new emergency grant in an effort to help keep down the number of serious heat-related illnesses and deaths. “Keep On the Air,” is designed to encourage area seniors and the disabled to turn on their air-conditioners, and keep them running, and seek utility assistance if there is a “fear” of not being able to pay their electric bills, the forthcoming month. This emergency project is during July only, and the senior/disabled applicant must present a current bill before it becomes past due, and Cool Down will pay a portion of the electric bill, not to exceed $225.00 per household and while funds last.

In many cases seniors and the disabled needing energy assistance in the marketplace have had to use a disconnection notice, or they already would have had to be disconnected, when seeking assistance. “We must stress to area seniors and the disabled that you should keep that air-conditioners on, and not worry about cost during these deadly heat waves, as everyone should be focused on their health,” said Rev. Earl E. Nance, Jr., agency allocation vice chair, board of directors for Cool Down St. Louis.

“Today’s significant donation from Home State Health gives us seed monies to immediately work with our social service partners and encourage them, to process applications, as these special funds become available,” said Melanie DiLeo, chairwoman, board of directors.

“Our beloved seniors and disabled people throughout the metropolitan area should no longer have to wait for a disconnection notice or already be disconnected,” said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, and honorary vice chair of CDSTL. “It’s the fear that concerns us; it’s the fear that can kill our most vulnerable -- that fear apparently has already become life-threatening and we need to do something about it.”

“We appreciate the generosity of the public, Vatterott College, Ameren and the Missouri Foundation for Health; they all have accepted the clarion call of helping their less fortunate neighbors,” said St. Louis City Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson and also a member of the Greater St. Louis Fire Chiefs Association. “This deadly weather has forced us to use these air-conditioners like precious life-preservers; and we certainly can use more.”

In accepting the air-conditioners on behalf of the all-volunteer board of directors, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said, “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you live, Cool Down St. Louis and Vatterott College need those working air-conditioners; and as we all continue to check on our disabled and elderly neighbors, we will hopefully have enough units coming in daily. I also want to take this time to thank the good people at Home State Health Plan for stepping up to the plate and dropping off these much-needed air-conditioners, as well as your $20,000.”

Official with Cool Down St. Louis announced that within the past several days, it had received a record, 2,500 hotline and on-line inquiries. The charity encourages people who don’t qualify for energy assistance to work with their local electric vendor, and pay something on their bills, and don’t wait until you get a disconnection to try and make amends, as most of the larger Missouri and Illinois electric suppliers do have a budget plan to help a needy or working-class household spread out their debt.

Cool Down St. Louis is still in need of tax-deductible donations, and checks may be sent to Cool Down St. Louis, P.O. Box 868, St. Louis, MO 63188 or log-on to www.cooldownstloouis.org.

This summer the charity is reiterating that it’s only helping seniors and the disabled adults with air-conditioners, and seniors and disabled adults, as well as low-income people may be eligible for utility assistance. Each grant is based upon availability of funds, and income eligibility, etc., and if by chance a social service partnering agency has temporarily run out of funds, asked to be placed on a waiting list.


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