‘These fans save lives’: ‘Summer Fan Drive Queen’ celebrates 8 years of volunteering

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — One by one, Dorothy Goodwin flipped through heartfelt messages.

“You’re fantastic, Dorothy,” read Goodwin. “Stay cool! Thank you!”  

A Family Eldercare representative presented thank you cards to Goodwin, dubbed, the “Summer Fan Drive Queen,” because she’s dedicated at least eight years to volunteering with the organization’s Annual Summer Fan Drive.

“People say, ‘well, it’s just a fan.’ It’s just a fan to you, but it’s more than just a fan to someone else,” she said.

KXAN has teamed up with Family Eldercare for more than 20 years for their Fans for Fans Friday, in which we aim to collect fans and raise money that goes toward supplying them to the Austin community.

Some of the other resources Family Eldercare serves about 7,000 people in the Austin community with:

  • In-home counseling
  • Isolation prevention
  • In-home care
  • Help with money management

“I know that when you get to be elderly, people sometimes don’t seem to care a lot about you,” she said. “They don’t understand that you don’t have the money to run the electricity and maybe you don’t have an air conditioner in the first place.”

Goodwin said she recognized the need when she saw an ad from the organization asking for volunteers back in 2010.

“People are dying in their homes all by themselves because they are not able to turn on the air conditioning because it’s too expensive,” said Virginia Larson, who is the development and event lead with Family Eldercare.

The need this year is even greater than last year. On Wednesday, Family Eldercare ran out of the fans they keep for people who are disabled or may be bed-ridden. Those are fans that are controlled with a remote or that pivot to help circulate the air as opposed to a standard box fan.

Family Eldercare representatives have set a goal to collect about 1,000 fans and raise $180,000 between June 14 to June 17 that will go toward the Summer Fan Drive and help provide the different resources Family Eldercare offers. Beyond that, they hope to raise $360,000 by August 31.

“Nothing is more moving than when you step into someone’s home who is suffering from this overwhelming heat and you give them a fan and you see the tears of relief.”

Goodwin plays a key role in that. She picks up fans from different fire stations around Austin and delivers them to the organization’s office.

“She’s a keeper,” Larson said. “She’s a retired nurse and so she knows the impact these fans have on people’s lives.”

For Goodwin, the decision to help was simple.

“I can’t understand anybody not being able to have cool air in their home and I feel that if this does anything for them, I have to do it right now,” said Goodwin. “I may not be able to do it in a few years so while I have the time and the energy, and the car that I can do it with, now is the time to help.”

“When you talk about the other resources that are available to them through Family Eldercare and other non-profits that they didn’t know were available and that they’re learning about because we delivered a fan, it all starts with a fan,” Larson said. “These fans are saving lives, they truly are.”

To donate, click here.

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