Cooling centers and school fans: How W MI is beating the heat

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With temperatures expected to hit 90 degrees this weekend, the heat is causing concerns for people without air conditioning and the West Michigan community is stepping up to help. 

“We’ve been having phone calls and people have been stopping by for heat relief,” Annette Vandenberg, the executive director West Grand Neighborhood Association in Grand Rapids, said. “Some people don’t have air conditioning they can’t afford it.”

The office is being used as a cooling center. The fridge is stocked with water.

“This was the water sent over to us from one of our churches,” Vandenberg said.

The city of Grand Rapids says one of the best ways to get out of the heat is to head to a local library, mall, or a friend or family member’s house with A/C. The city says opening its own cooling centers is a last resort. So the neighborhood association got on the phone and within a matter of hours created its own list of places to get relief:


In West Michigan, we have more snow days than heat waves, but the start of school this year was greeted with soaring temperatures. Temperatures in some of the classrooms are rising above 80 degrees.

“We have air conditioning in select parts our building,” Principal Tony Quinn at West Oakview Elementary School in the Northview School District said.

One West Oakview Elementary parent, Ace Marasigan, saw the need and stepped up to the plate. He bought three fans himself and then went to Facebook to see if others wanted to chip in to buy a fourth fan.

Within a few hours, 12 people had donated, allowing the Marasigan family to purchase more than 30 fans — enough for every classroom.

“We had the opportunity to walk into our office yesterday and receive a donation from Redd and his family of box fans and oscillating fans for all of our classrooms. Our teachers just over the moon,” Quinn, the principal, said.

Ace Marasigan delivers fans to West Oakview Elementary. He bought them using donations solicited on Facebook. (Courtesy)

A school bond will pay for central air to be installed in the next two years, but for now, this is doing the trick.

In Comstock Park, the school district added 40 portable A/C units along with fans to help keep the kids cool. Superintendent David Washburn spent three days finding the units, driving as far as Muskegon. They are now installed all the classrooms, allowing students to focus on their teachers and not the temperature.

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