Students serve Pine Ridge Veterans with solar

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June 05, 2018

For Memorial Day, GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Program and Ecological Action, a student-created nonprofit from Cherry Creek High School in Denver, Colorado, traveled to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to install solar and serve two veterans.  

Partnering with the Oglala Lakota Sioux Housing (OSLH), these systems are the second and third veteran home installations for the area. The homes, with system sizes 6.3 kilowatts and 5.3 kilowatts, are provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development through OSLH and provide housing for homeless veterans. Solar will help drastically reduce energy costs for these veterans who chose to serve their country, and continue to serve their community today.

Alvina White Bull, an Army veteran, works tirelessly every day to take care of her family and to make sure that ends meet. White Bull spends her mornings taking care of her mother who recently had a stroke, then she goes to work from 3pm to midnight, five days a week. White Bull works at Indian Health Services transporting patients to and from the hospital, as well as in the housekeeping department. She spends her limited free time with her children and grandchildren, and tries to find a moment to rest now and then. According to White Bull, “Everything here is electric, so I think that [solar] will help me save money.”

Shawnee Red Bear dedicated her early twenties to serving in the United States Marine Corps. Now back home in Pine Ridge, Red Bear continues to serve as the Veterans Service Officer for the ten thousand veterans who live on the reservation, facing homelessness and struggling to make ends meet. Vanessa Red Cloud, Shawnee’s mother, was thankful for the efforts of everyone involved with the install. “It just makes me feel good to know that there are people who care,” she remarked.

Both of these incredible women dedicated their lives to fighting for their country. Now back on the reservation on which they were raised, they continue to dedicate their time and energy to helping others. The impact that these women have on their community is boundless. With the reduced financial stress of another bill, they can continue to be force of positive change on Pine Ridge.

Special thanks to equipment partners Enphase Energy and Jinko Solar, whose equipment donations helped make these projects possible.