Weatherization Success Story: Lee's Summit, MO
July 19, 2021

“I am really grateful (for the assistance)—you have no idea what a huge help this was at exactly the moment that I needed it most.”

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It had been a difficult year. Ivon T. certainly wasn’t alone in feeling anxious and sad in Lee’s Summit, MO. In the middle of the pandemic, everyone everywhere was feeling challenged and overwhelmed. But Ivon’s plate was filled to overflowing. 

Each day Ivon would reach deeper and pray harder for more strength beyond what she needed to make it through these troubled times. She hoped for the strength to care for her nine-year old daughter, and she prayed even harder for the strength to continue to care for and give strength to her mother who was terminally ill with leukemia.  

Ivon had been living and working in Lee’s Summit for more than a decade. When her mother was diagnosed with Leukemia, Ivon gave up her job to moved with her daughter into her mother’s home to care of her. Ivon managed her mom’s household and health care—shuttling her between doctors’ appointments and cancer treatments, ensuring she was taking her medication and eating well, cooking, cleaning and caring for her just as she had once cared for Ivon. 

According to the American Psychological Association, Ivon is part of what is referred to as the “sandwich generation” – mothers ages 35-54, experiencing more stress than any other age group as they try to balance the demanding, delicate acts of caring for growing children and aging parents. Factor in the pandemic, her mother’s aging house which needed immediate updates and the responsibility of caring for a terminally ill family member undergoing treatment that elevates infection risk, and Ivon had every right to have levels of stress that exceeded any “sandwich gen-er”. 

While navigating her new role, Ivon learned that her mother’s house didn’t meet doctors’ recommendations for a healthy and safe environment needed to provide care for her mother while she was undergoing treatment. Air quality within the home and ability to control temperature for comfort were critical health matters, and the home did not have air conditioning or a well-functioning furnace. When the doctor recognized the urgency of Ivon’s situation, he wrote a medical order for air conditioning, but the cost was still an issue.

The furnace also had not been working properly for some time. Ivon called a contractor to see if they could fix it, but they could not afford the amount quoted for the repairs. She searched for assistance knowing she needed help and was referred to the Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City (CAAGKC) and the Weatherization Assistance Program.  

“I was focused on finding help for my mom but never expected to find a program like this,” Ivon said.

She applied for assistance and members of the agency came to the home to perform an energy audit. They provided Ivon with a list of updates and improvements that she qualified for and that they would be making to the home. This included replacing the old furnace with a high efficiency natural gas furnace, installing a new natural gas water heater, replacing her attic door and insulating and air sealing for greater efficiency.  And what about Ivon’s greatest wish for her mother’s care? They installed air conditioning just as the doctor ordered, too. 

“I’m really happy. They did an excellent job, and the new furnace made a huge difference,” Ivon said. “This furnace doesn’t work nearly as hard as that old one—it ran so much less but the house was so much warmer this past winter.”

Ivon’s mother passed away in April of this year. While she misses her terribly, Ivon has a deep and guiding faith they’ll be reunited one day and that her mother is indeed in a better place—free from illness and pain—watching over Ivon and her granddaughter.  But until then, she is truly grateful for the time she was able to spend with her and also grateful for the assistance she received from CAAGKC and the Spire fund that gave her more time and peace of mind to do so. 

“This was a huge help financially and also just the leg work alone. Very professional workers got things done and I could concentrate on my mom. I would totally recommend this to someone who needs the help,” Ivon said.  

Today the home is filled with warm memories of good times together, and the kitchen remains one of Ivon’s favorite places in the house. 

“We loved cooking. Especially Mexican dishes—like street tacos,” she said. “The fresh corn tortillas, cilantro and guacamole, mmmm. I can taste it already.”