#BetterSolarForAll (And To All A Good Night)

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Twende Solar crew, students and staff. Durissy, Haiti.

You’ve heard the phrase “do well by doing good”. But what does it really mean?  Is it Amazon employees bringing an idea to life, helping the homeless in Seattle? This idea ultimately led to Mary’s Place, the largest dedicated permanent shelter in the city. Or, is it Microsoft’s Airband initiative that is boosting the economy in rural areas by bringing broadband to them? Or—my new personal favorite—a manufacturing company in New Mexico that donates equipment, time, and resources toward rural electrification projects in Haiti, Mexico, and Peru through a great organization, Twende Solar. For many of us in the solar industry, we live by this unofficial mission statement, “do well by doing good”.

If you are a solar believer like me, I’m sure you love seeing companies embracing the ethos of social responsibility. It gives me hope and motivates me to do more in my local community, because I know that local efforts impact global efforts.  I am proud to work among like-minded people and am constantly humbled by the small acts of kindness my co-workers carry out. Their actions have helped spawn a new mission to celebrate the growing social philanthropy of the solar community at large.

#BetterSolarForAll: The Beginning

You may have caught a glimpse of it at SPI 2019 or seen the hashtag #BetterSolarForAll in a social media post. Here’s how it began: A former Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officer and a hockey player, both Unirac employees, came together over lunch and hatched a plan to help a local homeless shelter save money. When they shared their vision with me, I was struck by their sincere conviction that Unirac needed to pitch in to help our neighbors. “As an APD officer, I would pick up people living on the street because I could see they needed a safe place to sleep and a warm meal. I would bring them to Joy Junction.

“The people there were always willing to take someone in and give them a second chance,” said Klaus Nicolaedis, Certification Engineer. “I hear of us helping people in Haiti and Peru and I am proud of what we have done for those communities, but every day I drive to work and see homeless people here on the streets of Albuquerque.”

“I wish we could do more to help here in our own backyard.” That came from Todd Ganshaw, Director of Product Development. Our first conversation developed into a pivotal meeting and facility tour of Joy Junction. We met with Elma Reynalds, Joy Junction’s charismatic CEO, who spoke passionately about the founder, her late husband Dr. Jeremy Reynalds, and his vision for a space where everyone was welcome. Joy Junction is unique in its mission, as they take in families in need and strive to keep them together against challenging odds.

We were inspired to do more than just writing a check to Joy Junction. We wanted to make a tangible impact. That initial meeting blossomed into a plan to solarize their newest building. The project will help divert hundreds of dollars a month away from electricity costs and towards the important work they do in our community every day. This is what #BetterSolarForAll means to us.

Giving with a purpose is giving people a hand up, not just a handout. It’s giving individuals, groups, and communities the tools to better their circumstances. The project to solarize Joy Junction is in its initial stages, with installation projected to begin in early April 2020.  We are actively seeking equipment donations at this time. To participate in the project or donate equipment for the installation, please contact us at info@unirac.com and use the subject line “Joy Junction”.  Or, you can donate money directly to the project at http://www.joyjunction.org/apartment-sponsorship/

Watch the interview and learn more about the Joy Junction solar project HERE.

In this season of plenty, of joy, of giving, we want to know. How do you “do well by doing good?” How do you give with purpose? How do you embody the essence of #BetterSolarForAll? We would love for you to share your stories with us. Post about it on your social media and use #BetterSolarForAll. Together, let’s make this mission go viral.