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Phoenix woman gets air conditioning for first time in 18 years

PHOENIX — Workers were busy installing a new air conditioner in a west Phoenix neighborhood on Friday.

The 86-year-old woman who received the unit been sweating out the Arizona summers inside her home for nearly two decades because she last used her air conditioning in 1995, the year she retired.

Carol Simpson retired her husband were set to live on his income and her Social Security but then things took a turn for the worse.

“His company folded the day after I retired,” she said. “That’s when we decided to put in swamp coolers.”

The couple turned off the air conditioning and went with swamp coolers to save money. Simpson said that they continued using just the swamp cooler because that’s what her husband wanted. She said he was the head of the household and she followed his lead.

They bought the home near 35th avenue and Dunlap in 1961. Carol’s husband died two years ago, and she continued to swelter in the house. The original air conditioning unit — which no longer worked — remained on the roof until Friday.

“Project Cool Aid is a community-based program designed to service seniors, the disabled and low-income adults in Maricopa County,” said Antoine Coffer, CEO of Air Conditioning Contractors of Arizona.

The program has been going on for 10 years. This year, the group decided to team with United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona to offer select Maricopa County homeowners a free air conditioning repair or replacement.

The group worked with six companies to have the new unit shipped in from Dallas and installed in Simpson’s home free-of-charge. The installation would have normally cost $10,000.

Carol is thankful she’ll have cool air in her house. She held back tears as she said, “It’s so wonderful to think that people care so much about an old lady.”

She plans to enjoy the air conditioning for a long time because she intends to still be living in her home when she turns 100.

It was Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton who learned of Simpson’s plight and suggested that she be considered for the program. He grew up just two blocks from Simpson’s home.

Stanton later learned from Simpson that both he and Simpson’s daughter had attended Manzanita Elementary School and Cortez High School together. He suggested once the house cools down, he and Simpson could get together inside and have a beer to celebrate the new A/C.