Thanks to Our Special Guest
A few weeks ago we were lucky to receive a visit from a very special and unexpected guest, Reverend Jesse Jackson. The Reverend had been in town for an unrelated event and had the good fortune to meet our Social Justice Advocate, Larry Bratton, who enthusiastically informed him of all of the work we do here at the Sustainability Institute. Rev. Jackson was particularly interested in the job creation and low income housing assistance work that we do and Larry easily convinced him to come out to one of our job sites.
The house that we were working on that day just so happened to be an Impact Project house, the home of Mrs. Eugenia Johnson. Mrs. Johnson is in her early 80s and has been living in her home for over 20 years. She is an active of her community, volunteering at the local church, helping to watch her neighbor’s children and keeping an eye on the daily activities on her street. Mrs. Johnson had been busy running around and doing all of these things while living without any working HVAC system for the last two years. Now, in some parts of the country that may not mean much, but in Charleston where our average July temperature is close to 90 degrees with over 88% humidity, that is quite a feat. On top of improving Mrs. Johnsons health and safety by giving her a retrofit, we are also projecting a 63% efficiency improvement in her house, saving her over 30% in utility costs on an annual basis.
Reverend Jackson was impressed by the amount of work we were doing to the house as well as the projected cost and efficiency savings. He was also excited to see young, local professionals-in-training doing the work. Our Energy Conservation Corps (ECC) program was on site performing the retrofit while receiving on the job training of construction skills, weatherization techniques and building science. All members of the ECC are local residents between the ages of 18-25 who are looking to acquire professional skills through other means than college. Many of the participants go on to find other forms of education and employment that will lead them to rewarding careers.
This combination of local workers helping a local resident in need while bolstering the job market and improving Mrs. Johnson’s quality of life was exactly the type of partnership that Rev. Jackson was looking to see. His positive words of encouragement went a long way with Mrs. Johnson and the ECC members and let them know they were on the right path. We appreciate him taking his time to learn about our program and hope to work with him further in the future.