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Asheville GO weatherizes 100 homes

Saturday, March 03, 2012

On the last day of January, Green Opportunities (GO) crew members Giovanni McKnight, Ed Holloman, and Matthew Martinez finished up home weatherization measures for a home on Carroll Avenue, marking the hundredth Asheville residence weatherized through GO’s free home weatherization program.

Beginning in September 2009, GO has partnered with the City of Asheville, the Western North Carolina Green Building Council, and Community Action Opportunities to provide free home weatherization measures for Asheville residents who earn under 200% of the federal poverty scale. With financing from federal stimulus money and a city of Asheville Community Development Block Grant, GO has been able to employ over a dozen people over the past two and a half years, offering the opportunity for members to gain skills and experience in a growing field while providing up to $6000 worth of work on each home for free.

Green Opportunities is an Asheville-based nonprofit dedicated to improving lives, communities and the health of the planet through innovative green collar job training and placement programs.

The GO Weatherization Assistance Training Team (WATT) is a paid apprenticeship program designed to prepare GO Training Team graduates for clean energy careers while improving the efficiency of houses in low-wealth neighborhoods. Ed Holloman, after his term on the GO Training Team, became the first state-registered WATT apprentice. He’s been gaining weatherization experience in the field as part of the WATT crew, but will soon move on to an apprenticeship with GO’s Home Energy Rating System rater, where his experience on the crew will assist in his mastery of home energy auditing.

Jessie Mae Jones, a recent recipient of GO’s free home weatherization measures, has expressed as much enthusiasm for GO’s dedication to training local residents with barriers to employment as she has for the improvements done to her house. “Everybody that came to help me did a beautiful job; I have no complaints,” she recently testified. “Most of all I’m so thankful that you all are training all races of young [people] today, because we need this.”

Jones’ enthusiasm for GO’s work and support for the WATT apprentices was one of the catalysts that led to a partnership between GO and the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist church on Walton, of which Jones is a congregant. GO’s milestone achievement of 100 homes comes just a few weeks after GO and Americorps Project Conserve paired up to spend Martin Luther King Jr. day volunteering at the church, which doubles as the New City School, sealing air leaks and installing insulation. The weatherization work done at the church by these volunteers will hopefully save the church on it’s energy bills as well as keep churchgoers and New City School students more comfortable throughout the winter. Claudia Tucker, the church secretary, has expressed particular appreciation at the professionalism of GO staff and Americorps volunteers during the project. “A lot of people come to a workplace and leave their mess behind; GO members are always sure to clean up after themselves.”

Claudia Tucker and the rest of the staff at the Tabernacle have worked harmoniously with GO staff to get the word out about GO’s free weatherization program. By announcing GO’s services on Sundays and posting GO advertisements in their church bulletin, Tabernacle staff have facilitated the weatherization and home improvement of a number of their congregants, while supporting the community-based job creation that GO promotes.

Green Opportunities is located at 133 Livingston St, at the W.C. Reid center. To find out if you qualify for GO’s free home weatherization, you can call the office at 828-398-4168 or visit them online at greenopportunities.org.
 
David Forbes
mountainx.com



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