December 6, 2023

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Wilhelmina Martin has been referred to as just a few issues in her life: A candystriper when she was a 14-year-old, an RN when she graduated nursing faculty in 1974, and simply plain “Willy” to associates.

Now she’s often called “the air-conditioning woman.”

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The 68-year-old Port Moody retiree is asking the general public for donations of used moveable air conditioners so she will donate the items to different native seniors in want.

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“It’s going to be a scorching one this yr,” mentioned Martin, a longtime volunteer with the Dogwood Pavilion seniors society and Port Moody seniors friendship society.

When the warmth dome struck in the summertime of 2021, killing 619 folks, Martin sprang into motion.

“I used to be watching the tales unfold, and listening to the information. The general public who died had been seniors. My associates are seniors, my neighbour are seniors. I started calling round, asking if they’d cooling, or did they need assistance,” mentioned Martin.

“I used to be considering again to my very own circumstances.”

Fifteen years in the past, when she was a full-time caregiver to her late father, she put in a warmth pump. He grumbled concerning the air con, however when the climate heated up, “he was the primary particular person to ask me to show it on,” mentioned Martin.

“I do know that many individuals are upgrading to warmth pumps. I wish to join with these folks, to donate the moveable items they aren’t utilizing,” mentioned Martin.

That first summer season, Martin sourced and donated seven cooling items. Final summer season, she was capable of donate six, and to date this yr she has collected 4 items.

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“Lots of people don’t know the place to go to get assist,” mentioned Martin, who recollects a low-income senior reaching out to her in the course of the 2021 warmth dome. “She had been admitted to the hospital as a result of warmth stroke, and so they wouldn’t discharge her until she might present she had someplace cool to go.”

Martin opened up her own residence to the senior to get her by the warmth wave. She was the primary senior Martin sourced a donated air conditioner for.

Extra than simply air con items is required — Martin mentioned many seniors she donates to can’t afford to run the air conditioners for quite a lot of minutes a day, due to the way it impacts their hydro payments.

“My subsequent overture goes to be to B.C. Hydro to subsidize the price of further cooling. There needs to be a means of serving to low-income seniors with their hydro payments to allow them to afford to run their air conditioners,” mentioned Martin.

Some seniors are afraid to ask for, and even contemplate, an air con unit as a result of they’re hesitant about the fee.

“The second half of this piece is discovering a means to assist them pay for it,” mentioned Martin.

Just lately she acquired an electronic mail not too long ago from a person who defined he was dying of most cancers.