Traveling volunteer repays a debt of Gratitude


May 01, 2012

Steve Tate became a GRID Alternatives volunteer after a severe motorcycle accident in East Oakland in September 2010. “I felt myself bleeding, and looked up to someone’s eyes. She was saying ‘Sir’ and trying to keep me conscious,” Steve recalled recently.

An off-duty nurse, the woman was the first person on the scene. She stopped Steve’'s bleeding and stayed with him until the police and ambulance arrived. When his ordeal was over, he tried to find her to say thank you, but failed.

“Since I couldn’t find her to thank her, I wanted to pay back my community, and to get involved in something that gives directly back to an individual,” said Steve. He had always been interested in environmental causes and given money to charities here and there. But this woman had helped him directly, and he wanted to do something more meaningful in turn.

“That’s when I found GRID Alternatives,” said Steve. “There’s nothing like the smile on the homeowner’'s face as they flip the switch on the inverter. It’s so rewarding; you can'’t get that feeling anywhere else.”

The more installations he went on in Richmond, San Francisco and Oakland, the more he felt like he was paying it forward and helping his community. And the more he wanted to do it. He set a new mission for himself: to volunteer at each of the seven GRID Alternatives offices in the state. So far, Steve has been to installations in the Bay Area, the Central Coast and the Central Valley, and earned team leader status. Next stop: North Valley!

His favorite memory from an installation? “At the huge Habitat for Humanity install in Daly City, I looked around at all these people building homes and putting solar on roofs. I realized all of them, old women, young children, were all volunteers. Everyone was pitching in.”

The woman who stopped to help him that fall day changed his life, and through GRID Alternatives he is passing along the good will, helping struggling families go solar across the state.

“My mom thanks the woman who helped me, my daughter thanks her. To this day we still don'’t know who she is.”