In efforts fueled by concern for both the impoverished and the environment, the Energy Saving Volunteers (ESV) are helping area homes to become more energy efficient. The group is led by Brad Rouse of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Hayesville, whose church team works with Green Faith, St. Vincent de Paul, Hands of Hope, and the Hinton Center. These passionate volunteers are promoting the best of American values and Christian values.
The way ESV functions is that St. Vincent de Paul, the Hinton Center, or word of mouth identifies potential clients whose homes are wasting energy but who don't know how or can't afford to make changes. After Rouse assesses the situation, volunteers go to work doing repairs such as insulation and weather stripping. Rouse says, “If they're having trouble paying their electric bills, we won't pay the bill, but we'll do things to make the bill lower.” He continues, “At the same time we're improving the environment. This is a way we can show our concern for God's creation and for the least fortunate of God's people.”
In one difficult situation, when ESV assessed the heatless home of a family with nine children, an elderly grandmother, and a language barrier, they found a worn out water heater. With the help of Hayesville's Catholic church and the family itself, ESV put up the money to purchase an energy- efficient water heater that cuts the family's bill by 70 to 80%.
The concept of reducing energy waste and lessening climate damage began locally about a year ago, when Rouse learned from his wife Karen Campbell, a volunteer case worker, that St. Vincent de Paul was spending 80% of their donated funds paying electric bills for impoverished families. Then Amy Nicolson, another Good Shepherd parishioner, and Rouse applied for and received a $5,000 grant from Justice and Outreach Fund of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina. Since then, 29 homes have been assessed and repaired. Good Shepherd provides leadership; Rouse, Fred King, Nicholson, and her husband Gil, a skilled carpenter, head the work teams. BRMEMC occasionally helps by paying half the cost of approved items.
In one situation, ESV identified holes in the floor of a house as the cause of severe heat loss. Volunteers from the Hinton Center did the repairs. When an elderly couple needed to insulate their attic, BRMEC paid half the cost. As Amy Nicolson comments, “It is so inspiring to work with families to reduce their energy bills. They are sometimes shocked but so grateful that they have choices to reduce their bills.”
Energy Saving Volunteers does not argue about the causes of pollution and climate change, but it does embrace the concept of reducing waste while helping those who are less fortunate. Any other groups or individuals who would like to contribute or get involved can email Rouse at email@example.com, or call Good Shepherd at 828-389-3397.