Alison's Story


May 25, 2016

 As the Volunteer Training Assistant it is great to have the opportunity to get to know our wonderful volunteers and how they came to learn about GRID Alternatives.With that in mind, one afternoon I had the opportunity to meet Alison Van Dusen in our office, after completing her first install.

 Alison’s interest in solar began while interning with a non-profit organization in Haiti. The organization ran on a battery powered system. Unfortunately, the batteries went out a couple of months ago; however, with a back ground as an engineer, Alison aimed to find a solution to power their facility. Returning back to the United States, Alison’s curiosity to learn more about the power of solar, led her to begin training with Solar Energy International in Colorado.  It was during training at Solar Energy International (SEI) that Alison learned about GRID Alternatives.

 Following her training, Alison began her journey to California to receive treatment after recently being diagnosed with cancer. Mid-point in her cancer treatments, Alison came out and participated in her first install in September of 2015. “I am in the Central Valley because of health reasons, so I did have some time. I thought I’d come out and volunteer…I do consider GRID Alternatives as part of my healing…I wanted to just get out and take my mind off of the possible outcomes” stated Alison. Alison completed a total of 165 hours with GRID and became a Roof and Ground Team Leader while volunteering at the Central Valley office. “I appreciated the support from GRID Staff overall. I am also grateful that GRID gave me the opportunity to work on all aspects of the installation. I worked with Jackie Brown, Oscar Mendez, and Tony Rodriguez on a couple of site visits and learned the basics of designing the systems. I also loved that each time I volunteered, it was always a mixture of people” Alison said with a smile. 

 During lunch, I sat down with Alison before she began her road trip cross country in mid-May. It was a delight discussing her travels and zest to live out life in service to others despite the medical challenges that crossed her path. “I have been to every high point in the United States with the exception of Alaska” Alison stated with excitement. “I had my last P.E.T. scan and have this next six months to take a break and celebrate my health…I feel great! Being around positive people has helped me through this whole process” said Alison. Since then, Alison is clear of cancer. During Alison’s cross country trip, she plans to volunteer her time with Solar Energy International and a couple of national parks on the way. “I consider that I have had a really good life and people have been so generous, so it is my responsibility to give back” stated Alison. During my interview, I asked Alison what her final destination is; “There is no final destination. When I finish at Glacier National Park, I will continue on and remain open to the possibilities” stated Alison.

 It was a delight meeting Alison, a true inspiration. On behalf of GRID Central Valley, we wish you all the best as you continue your journey traveling through one national park at a time.