Client Says Professional Services in America Are “A Lost Art”
This week, nonprofit organizations Veterans Green Jobs and GRID Alternatives Colorado, alongside Wells Fargo volunteer teams, knocked out “at least five to 10 years’ worth of house projects” for a Denver couple. Henry (Ray) and Roslyn Navarro have been working on ongoing home improvement projects on their Harvey Park home with help from friends and neighbors, but the services they received this week have put this family over the moon. View photos of the event on Flickr.
“We never would have been able to afford these upgrades. They’ll last forever,” says Roslyn. The Navarros received weatherization improvements – including an energy efficient furnace, a water heater, insulation in the attic and crawlspace, CFL lightbulbs throughout the house, carbon monoxide/smoke detectors, and window sealing; solar panels; and exterior painting, landscaping and tree planting. The measures will boost the health, safety, energy efficiency and aesthetics of the 1952 home – as well as reduce the Navarros’ utility bills.
The changes come in good time for the Navarros. Ray, a retired U.S. Army veteran, no longer works, and Roslyn recently lost her warehouse job, making her unemployed. The financial adjustment to being without steady income has been hard on the family this year. “I’m used to working, staying busy,” she says. “Now we’re on a budget for the first time.”
Ray estimates that this year the utility bills peaked at $200-$220 per month. He expects those costs to go down with the new and improved systems. “We’ll save big time on the bills,” Ray says. In the winter, he and Roslyn have improvised to make the house more comfortable, including applying weather stripping around the leaky, frosty windows and the back door, and inserting rolled up newspapers to help insulate. But these efforts helped little, and Ray had trouble doing more due to a list of past injuries, including a broken back and a diminished hand function. He has three disks in his neck. “I’ve tried caulking and things like that. But I break more than I get right. The honey-do list is getting long,” he laughs.
The fact that the weatherization, solar and landscaping services were provided at no cost initially made the Navarros very skeptical due to past “free service” experiences gone bad. “I was worried they would do a bad job, or that the project would take too long,” concedes Roslyn, “but when the Veterans Green Jobs auditors came out for the energy audit, we developed a rapport and I became more confident. I was convinced they’d do a good job.”
Now, with the services complete, Roslyn, who is a fan of home improvement reality shows on HGTV, says the work “was amazing.” In her words, “From the initial contact to the interaction with client services and the followup, it’s all been very professional across the board. In America that’s a lost art.”
The community service aspect of the project is what appeals most to Ray. With 20 years of military service under his belt and three sons who have served in Iraq in Afghanistan, he appreciates seeing people who give back. “It’s hard to ask for help. But any time you get something done that you can’t afford, you appreciate it. Seeing vets helping vets, that’s what it’s all about.”
Mare App, program director for Veterans Green Jobs’ weatherization program, stresses the value of helping clients in need in more ways than one. “This week we offered our services at the home of Ray and Roslyn Navarro, who can now look forward to a more comfortable place to live, no matter what the season. The insulation and window-sealing will keep the home cooler in summer, and the furnace will be ready to switch on come winter. And because our services are free, the Navarros will be able to reserve their cash resources for other essential items such as food and clothing.”
Community service played a huge role in this event, which relied on the help of a volunteer team from Wells Fargo. “At the heart of Wells Fargo’s community initiatives is helping maintain strong, healthy communities that make great places to live, work, play and do business,” said Grace Lucero, Wells Fargo’s community development representative for Colorado. “Key elements of strong communities are jobs opportunities for residents and an adequate supply of affordable, energy-efficient housing. We’re pleased to be working with Veterans Green Jobs and GRID Alternatives to do both by building the job skills of Colorado veterans and adding to our local supply of quality housing.” Wells Fargo has invested $2 million – including $700,000 in Colorado – over five years in GRID Alternatives to help bring clean, affordable solar energy to communities that can benefit the most from energy solutions that are environmentally and economically sustainable.
“This is a great opportunity for all three of our organizations to advance our shared goal of promoting green energy and increasing green employment for people who need it most,” said Chuck Watkins, executive director of GRID Alternatives Colorado, which opened its doors in Colorado in January of this year and managed the installation of solar panels at the Navarros’ home.
Funding for this joint initiative was provided by the Colorado Energy Office, Xcel Energy, Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, Wells Fargo, Yingli Solar, Enphase Energy and Eric Bear, a Denver teenager who allocated $500 to the project through a “Do Something” grant.
Veterans Green Jobs is a national nonprofit whose mission is to engage, transition and connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environment. With programs in eight states, Veterans Green Jobs offers training and hands-on experience, directly employs veterans and offers a national job placement model. Its Green & Healthy Homes program installs free home improvement upgrades for income-qualifying homes in Denver and Jefferson Counties, improving the health, safety and energy efficiency of these homes. See veteransgreenjobs.org/green-and-healthy-homes for more information. Join Veterans Green Jobs on Facebook. View the corporate video on YouTube.
GRID Alternatives is a nonprofit organization that brings the benefits of solar technology to low-income communities. Using a barn-raising model, GRID Alternatives leads teams of volunteers and job trainees to install solar power on qualifying homes, providing needed savings for families struggling to make ends meet while preparing workers for jobs in the fast-growing solar industry and cleaning our air. More than 3,400 families have benefited from the program to date, saving more than $92 million in lifetime electricity costs, and more than 11,700 people have received hands-on solar installation experience. GRID Alternatives has seven offices in California and one in Denver, Colorado. For more information visit www.gridalternatives.org/colorado, and visit GRID on Facebook.
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.4 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, and the Internet (wellsfargo.com), and has offices in more than 35 countries to support the bank’s customers who conduct business in the global economy. With more than 270,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. In Colorado, Wells
Fargo serves customers through 170 banking stores, 20 Wells Fargo Home Mortgage stores, and 30 Wells Fargo Advisors locations. In 2012, Wells Fargo donated $4.3 million to Colorado nonprofit organizations and team members logged more than 28,000 volunteer hours. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 25 on Fortune’s 2013 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Learn more at www.wellsfargo.com.