Origin of Need: Georgia Smith

smiling woman

Jana Ngugi our program director and I dropped off a space heater and some warm blankets to one of our favorite long-time clients, Georgia, on a cold and rainy November afternoon. While there we were able to ask her a few questions about her experiences with EnergyCare services. A full video of this interview can be found on the front page of our new website; EnergyCare.org.

Born in Holly Springs Mississippi, near the Mississippi Delta. Georgia arrived in Saint Louis at the age of 5. Her parents were direct descendants of freed slaves who moved north in search of a better life. Georgia grew up in Saint Louis and has lived in her current home going on 28 years. She worked as a lunch lady at a local school until the school was shut down. She got cancer shortly thereafter which took her ability to walk and work. These days, (at 67 years old) she helps care for her mother who is in a senior home facility.

I asked her if after so many years of work, did she get a pension or retirement after the school was shut down. She responded that they got their saved vacation pay and that was it. During that time the vast majority of people fled the city for the county where they built new schools. Georgia was abandoned and stuck in the city like many others like her, unable to flee the city due to financial, health, and segregation reasons. This is the origin of the need here in Saint Louis. This is the backstory of many of our clients.


Was Georgia salty about her raw deal? Nope, all she could say is that “it always could be worse, and we get what we get, no point complaining about”. I went on to ask her about the effects of the weatherization services she has received from EnergyCare staff and volunteers over the last few years. She commented that her front bedroom was always cold, and after EnergyCare applied the vinyl to her room she felt immediate results and was able to sleep through the night in comfort. Additionally, she mentioned the $20-month savings she sees on average on her monthly utility bills, which allows her to buy medications and food that she wasn’t able to afford prior.


Jana and I got big hugs as we headed out, feeling humbled by Georgia’s story and outlook on life. On the ride back to the office Jana reflected on Georgia’s complement about her ability to get back to every client that leaves a message. She needed that recognition, this work can feel like a thankless endeavor at times. We both found new resolve in what we do.

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We install home weatherization materials, setup portable heaters and electric blankets, or simply give out standard blankets for immediate warmth. For the heat we install window air conditioners.