new heater, 12/14/12

Hector Gracia-Medrano, a service technician with Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning of Dixon, installs a new heater for Shirley Williams, of Fairfield, on Friday morning. The installation was part of Dependable's annual “Keeping Santa Warm” program where they give a free furnace to someone who can't afford it. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)


Local woman gets free heater for cold house

By From page A4 | December 15, 2012

FAIRFIELD — Shirley Williams sat inside her house on Friday morning using gloves, a blanket and a space heater to help keep warm, to no avail.

“I’m like a popsicle in here,” she said.

Williams had seen her heater red-tagged by PG&E on Monday for a carbon monoxide leak, just in time for the season’s biggest cold snap. She didn’t have the money to buy a new one.

In the other room, Hector Gracia-Medrano wore a Santa Claus hat as he worked to install a new heater. Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning of Dixon gave Williams a heater for free.

“I know God is always in the plan, but I didn’t look for that,” Williams said.

The old heater sat out on William’s front lawn. John Stone, sales manager for Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning, looked at it.

“That thing’s got to be at least 40 years old,” Stone said.

So it would appear. Williams, a Louisiana native, moved to the house in a neighborhood near Fairfield High School in about 1974 when her then-husband was transferred to Travis Air Force Base. She still had the same heater.

After the heater was red-tagged, Williams’ house got so cold that she went and stayed with her son in Suisun City at nights. Temperatures during recent nights have fallen to the mid-30s. At 10 a.m. on Friday, it was about 49 degrees outdoors and 57 degrees in William’s home.

Williams’ sister called Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning earlier in the week to get an estimate for a new heater. Stone went to Williams house and gave an estimate of about $2,100, which Williams couldn’t afford.

The company for about 10 years has had what it calls its “Keeping Santa Warm” program. Each  year, it gives one free furnace to someone who can’t pay for it.

“We decided we need to give back to the community,” Stone said.

Stone decided that Williams would be the recipient this year of the free furnace.

“You’ve got someone, they have no options, we’re able to take care of a need,” Stone said. “It’s a great thing.”

Williams called Stone “an angel.”

Stone and Gracia-Medrano were Santas for a day, bringing the gift of warmth to a cold house.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 2 comments

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  • RichDecember 15, 2012 - 9:28 am

    Poor Mrs. Williams is lucky she wasnt poisoned by Carbon Monoxide--I pulled a 1985 Trane heater out several years ago and found its heat exchanger was corroded but not breached. Those central units are probably only good for 25 years.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • VjDecember 23, 2012 - 9:33 pm

    A nicely written and inspiring story.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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