Freedom Solar will host a benefit on Dec. 15 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Summit Rooftop Lounge, 120 W. 5th St., with live music by Minor Mishap Marching Band, to raise funds for the project. The benefit is free and open to the public, with a suggested $10 donation at the door.
Raleigh Jenkins, president of ABC Home & Commercial Services in Houston, is a founder and board member of A Child’s Hope, the nonprofit that built the orphanage. The goal is to make the orphanage self-sustaining, Jenkins says, and solar power is critical to that mission because there is no electricity available on the mountain where the orphanage is located.
The orphanage’s solar installation will begin in January. Freedom Solar will donate the labor, and SunPower will donate the panels. Proceeds from the benefit will help pay the additional costs of the project, such as international customs and trans-oceanic shipping costs for equipment. Once installed, the 20-kilowatt solar array and battery backup will meet 100 percent of the orphanage’s electricity needs.
“Solar power will allow us to build an aquaponics farm to raise fresh fish and grow nutritious, organic produce. Solar will allow us to refrigerate or freeze that food so it doesn’t spoil and the children have a constant, reliable source of food. Solar will allow us to light our facilities. It’s a life-changer,” says Jenkins.
The charitable partnership comes on the heels of Freedom Solar installing arrays on two of ABC Home and Commercial’s offices: a 50-kilowatt project at the San Antonio office earlier this year, and 147-kilowatts at the Austin headquarters last month. The arrays offset 75 percent of each office’s electricity costs, and the money ABC saves on its bills will help fund the Haiti orphanage.
Bret Biggart, managing director of Freedom Solar, says: “We’re excited to deepen our partnership with ABC Home & Commercial and work together on this meaningful charitable project. Haiti has the world’s largest population living in energy poverty, with more than 7 million people lacking access to electricity.”
Once completed, A Child’s Hope Orphanage will give 320 Haitian children the opportunity to live in a thriving environment that differs sharply from traditional orphanages in the country.
“Most Haitian orphanages are merely designed to keep kids fed and to provide shelter. We’re creating a place where kids can grow, learn, and become productive citizens and leaders of Haiti,” says Jenkins. “We’re overwhelmed with gratitude for Freedom Solar Power. They’re helping us build a sustainable future for lost and abandoned children in Haiti for generations to come. It’s going to change lives.”
— Solar Builder magazine