On a sunny Saturday morning in June, five women came together to volunteer in a South Sacramento neighborhood by installing a solar array. Many of them had never met one another or the homeowner they served, but they were all held together by a common bond: each of these women, along with GRID Outreach Coordinator Kim Garrett, comes from a background of military service.
GRID Alternatives’ Troops to Solar program highlights and celebrates the contributions of members of the armed forces to our communities, offers a platform for these distinctive skills to be used in the service of renewable energy and the environment, and invites veterans to re-discover the sense of purpose they know from military service by contributing to a global mission for social and environmental justice.
At our Sacramento install, the bond was deeply felt. Homeowner Hardeep Harrian, who is originally from Fiji, has served in the US Army for nearly 30 years, including 7 years of active duty in Afghanistan. She is committed to making her home eco-friendly, and the solar array was an important part of that transformation for her. It was amazing to witness the synergy among the crew as Harrian served chai and cooked lunch for her fellow women veterans. It was truly a group effort. Each volunteer engaged in the install with focus, dedication, and the joy that comes from building a sense of community. One of these remarkable participants had this to say about the special contributions of female veterans to Troops to Solar program:
“All the volunteers today were so capable, confident, and strong. Women vets are unique individuals; they’re tough. Vets know how to work as a team. We know when to step back and when to step in to help do a job. We know when there’s a job that needs to be done, you just gotta do it.”
- Silvi, Air Force Veteran, former electrical engineering teacher at Air Force Academy, Hewlett-Packard engineer.
Sacramento’s KCRA Channel 3 came out to capture the moment, interviewing GRID staff members Kim Garrett and Kari Kapadia as well as Harrian. See the news clip from their segment on GRID’s work here.
After the 16 panel array was fully installed, the group enjoyed a barbecued lunch. Solar installation is about making electrical connections, but, with GRID’s Troops to Solar program, community members connect with each other to build upon networks of support that truly enrich and enliven the lives of those who have served and protected our country through military service, opening channels for the unique passion and perspective of these community leaders to shine.