GRID Homeowner Karina Chavez always had a strong interest in following a path to the Marines. From a young age she recognized the structure and discipline of military life and found it very appealing. “I can remember as a young girl talking to my parents about joining,” Karina recalled. “They thought it was just a phase I was going through which would pass with time.”
Karina’s interest grew stronger when she volunteered as a Police Explorer during her high school years. She viewed the experience as the next step in a process that would ultimately lead to serving her country. “When I was 17 I made my decision to join the Marines,” Karina said. “My recruiter was very supportive and recognized how motivated I was to be a Marine.”
On her 18th birthday Karina enlisted, beginning a life journey that took her from Southern California to the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq. “One of my primary responsibilities was to perform preventative maintenance on generators,” Karina remarked. “Reliable communications were essential and the generators we worked on powered radar and comms systems for aircraft.”
After Karina was discharged as a Corporal in 2009, she returned back to the Inland Empire, yet her desire to serve was just as strong. She began working at a Veterans Center performing client scheduling and records management activities. “I have a connection with veterans that will last forever,” Karina said. “I really enjoy working with vets and still feel that camaraderie.”
When Karina bought a house in 2015 she quickly realized the demands of her current position along with being a single parent of two left limited financial resources to make ends meet. She discovered GRID Alternatives though another nonprofit, HomeStrong USA, who was completing energy efficiency upgrades to her home.
“I learned all about GRID’s solar system from their Outreach team and how I could save money on my electric bill,” Karina said. “It was a bonus when I found out about their Troops to Solar program.”
Troops to Solar is a popular GRID program that provides job training for veterans seeking employment in the rapidly expanding solar industry. Many local solar contractors are seeking experienced workers to fill positions. Troops to Solar gives Inland Empire veterans the experience they need to get those jobs through hands-on training. Veterans work side-by-side with GRID staff to install solar electric systems for income-qualified families enrolled in GRID’s solar energy assistance program. While veterans learn and apply their skills, they also help families in need generate substantial savings by decreasing their electricity bills. For Karina this means saving over $23,000 during her system’s lifetime.
If you are a veteran or know a vet looking for work in an industry that is growing 15-20% each year, GRID is the perfect place to start. Troops to Solar has a proven track record of providing a path to well-paying jobs in the Inland Empire. You can reach our Workforce Development team by calling 951.471.7043 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.