SolarCorps guest post: A day on the roof


October 29, 2018
A young women (Winnie) stands on a rooftop next to solar panels with her arms outstretched.

Winessa Nartia, who goes by Winnie, is one of GRID's newest SolarCorps Fellows who traded her desk for a rooftop last month as she got to experience her very first solar installation with GRID! Read her guest blog post to hear how she conquered her fear of heights and took on a new challenge.

As I took the first couple of steps up the ladder and looked at the ground below me, I could feel my little heart thumping out through my highlighter-yellow vest and GRID shirt. I told myself, this is bigger than your fear. For two days, my very first experience installing solar took place at Peninsula Park in East Palo Alto, a four-story multifamily home - GRID’s biggest solar project in the Bay Area. It was cold still - the marine layer was lingering - but the feeling once I stepped foot on the grainy roof was like no other. Locking the clamps, using a power tool, was even more exhilarating. It was a direct indication that we are making an immediate change in these homes and in the lives of their inhabitants.

At the end of the day, it was no easy endeavor. I never felt so tired in my recent years until the first day of installing solar. When they stretch during the safety talk, you better stretch those muscles - all of them - your legs, arms, neck, fingers, toes, everywhere. When they tell you to lift with your legs, you better do so. When they say, “do not walk backwards,” don’t walk backwards! And of course, always wear your hard hat! Safety was most critical before and after lunch when the marine layer dissipated, the sun was beaming down on the roof, and the modules and metal exacerbated the surrounding temperature. I found myself feeling tired for a moment, and I realized that I was dehydrated. Always stay hydrated before it’s too late! 

Overall, this was definitely an interesting and exciting change from doing my daily work at the HQ office as a SolarCorps Workforce Development and Volunteer Fellow. Fear of heights? I didn’t know what that is anymore, especially after getting some fresh, crisp Bay Area air and having a nice, sunny day with these modules and the people around me. I tip my hard hat to the construction teams and their abiliy to do this back-breaking work, day in and day out.

Special thank you to the supporters of our SolarCorps Fellowship Program: The SolarCorps Program is part of the AmeriCorps network of programs. SolarCorps is made possible with funding support from AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Bank of America. AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. For more information, visit