Sisters Help Residents ‘Beat the Heat’ with Fan Giveaway

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

June 21, 2024

As the sun blazed in Nelson County, Kentucky, on June 20 —the first day of summer — the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth were hard at work helping residents find reprieve from the heatwave. Recognizing the impact of rising temperatures, the Sisters organized a giveaway of 500 box fans, funded by a successful Kentucky Gives Day online fundraising campaign in May. This initiative underscored the community spirit and innovative energy solutions spearheaded by the Sisters.

Pallets of fans sit on the Motherhouse Lawn the morning of June 20, in preparation for an afternoon giveaway.

Cars queued along Main Drive and around Holy Family Circle at Nazareth throughout the afternoon as volunteers, staff, and Sisters handed out the fans. 

“This is a blessing!” commented a resident as a fan was placed in the bed of his pickup truck. Thank ya’ll for doing this!” Many who came through expressed the same gratitude as they collected their fans. “This heat is terrible,” one woman said as she went through the line. “Every little bit helps,” another man said.

Volunteers load fans into vehicles as they come around Holy Family Circle.

Jackulin Jesu, SCN, president of the Congregation, was outside Thursday helping volunteers distribute the fans. “You can see the smile on their face, and that itself gives a lot of joy,” she said. 

She noted the need seen as residents came through. 

“I hear they have no air conditioning in their car, in their house,” Sister Jacky said as she loaded fans into trunks and back seats. Some residents were trying to address their own needs, while others were helping their neighbors or grandparents cope with the heat.

One woman used papers to fan a toddler on her lap, trying to keep cool as they waited.

“We live in a three-bedroom trailer, and we’ve got to have something,” she said. “We’ve got no A/C in the car. At home, our big air conditioner in the living room quit working.” 

A resident’s ticket is taken by a volunteer as he prepares to receive a free box fan.

The summer heat in Kentucky often soars above 85°F, with heat indexes frequently hitting the 90s or higher. On the day of the giveaway, temperatures peaked at 91°F, one of the week’s cooler days. According to health officials, such extreme heat poses significant risks, especially to vulnerable populations like older adults, children, and those with preexisting conditions.

Melissa Phillips, public relations officer with the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, said that to help mitigate risks of heat-related illness, residents are advised to avoid being outdoors during the hottest part of the day, wear loose, light-colored clothing, and stay hydrated, preferably with water.

“People are urged to check on those without air conditioning, particularly the elderly and those with disabilities,” she said, and to never leave children or pets in a vehicle, even with the windows cracked. “If a person does not have access to air conditioning, there are public places available during the daytime hours: libraries, malls, etc. I would advise them to find out if their community has a local cooling center available as well.”

Amid these high temperatures, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth identified a pressing need for affordable cooling solutions and selected a fan drive as their project for the May 7 Kentucky Gives Day campaign. Drawing from the more than $10,500 raised during that campaign, the Sisters were able to purchase the box fans at cost for the giveaway. 

Stephaine Lamar, director of development at Nazareth, credited the generosity of new and longtime donors for making the giveaway possible.

“People are willing to help; they just have to have a cause to support,” Lamar said. “This is one of these causes everybody can get behind … Everybody needs comfort in the summer. Having those donors reach out and help us do this, we are grateful.”

Most of the fans were distributed during the event at the Nazareth Motherhouse Campus, while a few others were reserved to be delivered to homebound residents identified through community resources. 

A stack of box fans sits ready for distribution at Nazareth on June 20.

Sister Jacky said the Sisters’ work is done in the spirit of Mother Catherine Spalding, their foundress, who was known for responding to the needs of the vulnerable. 

“Her motto was to respond to the need that is in front of you,” Sister Jacky said. “We really have to respond to the needs of the time. The temperature is changing because of the climate crisis the world is facing, and this is the outcome of it.” 

The hope was that the fans would not only help provide some immediate relief for residents but also save on energy. The Sisters are stewards of caring for the Earth and promoting ecological sustainability.

Air conditioning, while effective, is not always practical or affordable for everyone. Box fans offer a more energy-efficient alternative, consuming about 90% less energy than central A/C systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. They can be particularly effective to enhance natural ventilation or in conjunction with an A/C to circulate cool air more efficiently. For many households, reducing energy consumption translates to lower utility bills, providing longer-term financial relief.

The fan drive and giveaway are great examples of community compassion in action. By leveraging the funds from the Kentucky Gives Day online campaign, the Sisters — and generous donors — addressed a community need in a simple way. The success of this initiative reminds us that, together, we can weather any storm — or heatwave — that comes our way.


  1. Debra Kehl

    What a Wonderful Wise Event to Care for One Another! It reminds me of St Francis of Assisi who heard God say to him, “Go rebuild my church”. In the film Brother Sun Sister Moon documentary of St Francis’s life, he did just That! Hugs to All. Debra 👍💕🙏

  2. Joel

    Heat and cold storms and flood have brought the whole world under one umbrella.
    Let us hold on to one another!

  3. jeanine j jaster

    Such a wonderful example of responding To the needs of the Times This heat wave has been brutal and no end is just around the corner. Thanks to all who were part of the event.


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