The greatest story ever “cold”

February 1, 2024 Chelsey Sleator
How one community was there for each other during record-breaking heat.

Globally, the summer of 2023 was the hottest on record. And while Casey, a 57-year-old disabled Marine veteran, is used to steamy Texas summers, he began to worry when his central air conditioning unit started to act up. The stress on the AC system was increasing Casey’s utility bill by $500-$700 per month, causing even more strain on his budget. And when the unit finally went out for good, he struggled to stay cool in temperatures that were nearing 100 degrees on the regular. 

Casey has been through a lot. He’s had back surgery and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, kidney disease, and hypertension. With temperatures reaching as high as 103 degrees inside his home, Casey was starting to feel overwhelmed. He was especially heartbroken that his grandchildren were missing out on their typical summer of fun with their grandparents. He needed help, and he wasn’t alone.

Cooling a community through a heat crisis

From May 1 to August 25 in Tarrant County, which spans the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 842 people were reported to have been treated for heat-related incidents, and there were 11 heat-related deaths. 

Realizing the community’s health and safety were at risk, the United Way of Tarrant County launched its second annual Beat the Heat initiative, which provides free fans and AC units for older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, and income-constrained families. With help from a $31,000 grant from Charles Schwab Bank, the United Way was able to distribute 246 window AC units and 14 fans by the end of August, keeping its most vulnerable population cool. 

“We’re invested in strengthening the fabric of our communities,” said Paul Woolway, Schwab’s Chief Banking Officer. “When you look at our Banking & Trust Services organization, given our size and our presence, it’s imperative that we be active in our communities, and serve people in need where we live and work.”   

Beating the heat

After searching for help, Casey was connected with the United Way of Tarrant County and was put on the list for a new window unit to help keep things cool. He was all smiles when he picked it up, and in his own words, “I’m still standing.”