Sunrise Rotary teams up with T.E.A.C.H. to provide senior's with much needed and essential comfort.
Project Get Warm
In early 2014 Alturas Sunrise Rotarian Richard Lechner saw a need in the greater Alturas community to help seniors who because of their fixed incomes were struggling to help make ends meet.  At that time heating fuel costs were at an all time high and when winter months came it was difficult for these individuals to meet all their bills.  There are some fixed-income individuals who were forced to force pay their normal monthly bills and forgo purchasing heating fuel.  They were staying in their homes but not able to heat the home properly. Modoc County has a population of 9,147 with 23% (2,104) of these Seniors 65+, and 27% (568) of these seniors living below the national poverty level on fixed incomes of $500/month or less.
For these individuals Richard thought if they had could just wrap themselves in an electric blanket in their homes they could stay warm while keeping the thermostat turned down low to save on the heating cost.  They could take the blanket into any room in their house and maintain warmth.  Richard met to discuss his idea with representatives of the agencies and groups supporting seniors in Alturas: Debby Mason Modoc County Adult Service, Carol (Callaghan) Cullins T.E.A.C.H., and the Cathleen Williamson Modoc Seniors Center. 
In May 2014 Richard approach the Rotary Club of Alturas Sunrise to present his idea, the club climbed on board, and “Project Get Warm” was born.  The three senior service agencies and groups came on board with the Alturas Rotary Club to seek a District 5190 Grant.  With these partners we developed “needs” criteria for distribution of the blankets; community seniors age 65+ and on fixed low incomes.  Two local vendors, Seab’s True Value Hardware and High Country Performance, joined in the cause allowing for the purchase of the blankets and Rotary Club of Alturas Sunrise club logo decals at cost.  In June 2014, the Rotary Club of Alturas Sunrise applied for a matching District 5190 Grant of $2000.  In the grant applications we had planned to purchase 40 blankets to distribute to those meeting need criteria developed with our partners.  As a result of these generous vendor partners we were able to purchase 85 blankets.  The blankets arrived at Seab’s True Value Hardware in November 2014, taken to the High Country Performance for logo, and ready for distribution in early December 2014.  When we started distributing the blankets, we discovered this is a proud group and most do not want to accept “hand outs”.  So we have had to be cagey approaching them and presenting them with the blankets.  They also do not want their photos taken or names published.  We are respecting these desires.
Following are a couple examples of the impacts of this project on our community and seniors.
One couple in their early 70’s moved to the Alturas community this past summer seeking a more economical living location from southern CA.  They expended most all their saving purchasing a small place just out of town and were not prepared for our winters.  The first snow storm found them snowed in, with very little wood supply, and running out of food.  A concerned neighbor called the Sherriff’s department with concerns and requested they checked on them.  The officer found the house full of smoke because they did not know how to operate the wood stove and the flue was closed, out of fire wood, inside house temp was in the low 40’s, and with little food.  T.E.A.C.H. was contacted and they provided them with emergency supplies to get them by for few days, including our blankets for each, and the neighbor plowed the drive so they could get to town.  This story is the extreme. 
Another recipient keeps her thermostat set at 50 degrees and lived in only one room of her house.  With the blanket she is able to move throughout the house and plugging the blanket in as she goes to once again enjoy her house.
To date 36 blankets have been distributed.  Blankets continue to be distributed upon request or to those in severe need as determined by our partners.