GRID Bay Area's First Spanish-language Install

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February 26, 2020
IMG: Tesla volunteers

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In a state where over 30% of the population’s native language is Spanish, and as an organization who serves many Spanish speaking communities, GRID team members and Spanish speakers Juan Bernal, Melissa Bergsneider, and Luis Amar noticed that something was missing from our Bay Area programming: a way for our Spanish speaking community of volunteers, job trainees, and clients to participate in GRID solar installations entirely in their native language. 


We have Spanish speaking staff, marketing materials, and contracts - you could go solar with GRID without having to overcome a language barrier. But when it came to providing Spanish language install and job training instruction, or having volunteers engage with Spanish speaking clients while we installed on their homes - we came up short. That is, until Juan, Melissa, and Luis stepped in. 

Their goal: to hold a Spanish speaking installation for a Spanish speaking client, with Spanish speaking volunteers -  and for participants and clients to feel comfortable asking questions and engaging with instruction and installation in their native language.

When the Latinos at Tesla Employee Resource Group reached out to us about sponsoring an install as a team-building event, we saw the perfect opportunity to pilot our new Spanish language programming. Melissa, Juan, and Luis put their efforts into action - facilitating our volunteer orientation in Spanish for the group from Tesla, and working with our construction team to carry out the install for the Villa family of Menlo Park entirely (with just a bit of Spanglish) in Spanish. The experience was especially meaningful for the Villa family who joined the group for the morning safety talk and thanked the volunteers and construction team by hosting an impromptu barbeque at the end of the day. Joanna Villa noted, “It is great that all [volunteers and staff] speak Spanish. It is a beautiful experience for my parents because they can understand better with all of you.” 

Tesla volunteers on ground
Now, with a successful Spanish language install under our belt, we hope to expand Spanish language programming throughout GRID Bay Area - offering the same experience to job trainees and community volunteers and continue to encourage Spanish language client engagement while their systems are being installed. 

For more information about Spanish language instruction and to learn more about our job training and volunteer opportunities, email trainingba@gridalternatives.org.