Solar Champion Bride


January 06, 2017
Leslie and her Bridesmaids are Solar Champions!

Champagne, gifts, flowers, and party favors - that’s how most people picture a bridal shower. Instead, Leslie imagined hardhats, harnesses, ladders, and power tools. Rather than having a typical bridal shower, Leslie Barkemeyer (soon to be Leslie Hodge), decided to celebrate her engagement with a “bridal build,” and spent a day installing solar with her friends. Leslie and her bridesmaids participated in GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic’s new Solar Champions program, raising money for GRID to install a solar system that will save a DC homeowner approximately $700 a year, and prevent about 100 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. 

Solar Champions is a way to get even more involved as a volunteer. Participants form a team of 5-10 Solar Champions and fundraise for GRID before participating in solar installation together. This bride decided to give back to her community through the GRID Solar Champions program. 


Leslie Installed Solar for her Bridal Shower
Leslie Installed Solar for her Bridal Shower
“I knew I wanted to do a day of service. I have what I need. What is important to me is that my fiancé and I raise children who are stewards of the environment, and have a healthy world to grow up in,” explained Leslie. As opposed to registering for household items, she asked her guests to donate to GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic. 

So why did she pick GRID Alternatives for her community service? For Leslie, she found the environmental mission crucial. “GRID is super hands-on. The mission is important. We are in a climate crisis,” she explains, “We need more renewables. We need to start transitioning now.” She also used it as an opportunity to engage her friends. “I want to empower people in my life to be a part of the solar movement. There are some women in solar in business and policy roles, but fewer in engineering and construction,” said Leslie, “I thought it would be cool for the women in my life to get a chance to roll up their sleeves and install a system.” 

Leslie's Solar Champion Team's Impact
Leslie's Solar Champion Team's Impact
And the fundraising part of Solar Champions isn’t as daunting as it sounds! Leslie was “shocked by how generous people were.” After sending an email to her friends, family, and coworkers, she discovered that people gave more money than she thought they would, and that people who she didn’t consider to be clean energy supporters still donated. Her advice: Make sure you aren’t the only one raising money! Make it an event or party where people pay to attend, and don’t be afraid to ask anyone. 

As a Solar Champion, Leslie made a huge impact. Afterwards, she sent a card to her fellow bridal build installers, explaining the significance of their work. Thanks to the help of her and her bridesmaids, we have one more solar installation in the world, benefiting a deserving family. 

Make a New Year’s Resolution to help a family go solar. Be a Solar Champion!