The Sustainability InstituteThe Sustainability Institute

By Katherine Richards

Youth – Quintuon, Corps Member

Quintuon 

Energy Conservation Corps

Like most students, Quintuon had no idea what he wanted to do after school. Unlike most students Quintuon decided to make the proactive decision to delve into the weatherization field.

Quintuon discovered the Sustainability Institute through his local pastor, and after leaving Publix he knew he wanted something different. When he imagined his future, Quintuon had no idea that he would be helping the community. Even less so did he ever think he would learn skills such as caulking, duct door building, or weatherization, terms that were once foreign to him and now fluent. The Sustainability Institute has impacted Quintuon in many ways, but most importantly it has given him the opportunity to be the one making an impact. Not only does he experience the rewarding feeling of knowing he’s making a difference, he’s learning responsibility and initiative and discovering new passions. One of Quintuon’s favorite parts of working with the Energy Conservation Corps is the people that he’s met and the friendships that he’s made. Being able to share an experience can be just as valuable as the experience itself. As Quintuon has found a passion in this field, coming back for a second term to continue to immerse himself in it is a very promising option for his next step. At the end of the day the Sustainability Institute is about more than just weatherization and retrofitting, it’s about helping people. Like the many that came before him, Quintuon has found fulfillment in a pure joy that sustains humanity, helping others. And on top of it, he’s picked up a few new tricks of the weatherization trade.

By Katherine Richards

A day of service with MTAG!

MTAG Services gathered their employees to participate in a day-long volunteer service event to retrofit and energy upgrade a low-income home for the family in need, while also generously sponsoring the materials and supplies for the retrofit.

The MTAG employees worked hand-in-hand with the Veterans Conservation Corps members of The Sustainability Institute to learn first-hand how to upgrade the home for energy efficiency and help save the homeowner money on their energy bill.

These volunteering opportunities are a great way for businesses to not just sponsor a home, but to engage their employees in serving our community. They are highly collaborative, engaging and fun events where the community and families we serve get to interact with our corporate partners and businesses.

During these service projects, our volunteers receive formal instruction around weatherizing/ energy upgrading a home and then get to immediately apply those skills to help improve the home of a family in need.  Repair work is supervised by our licensed contractors.

We believe that there is a special opportunity during these events for volunteers to learn new skills and to add additional dexterity to the projects.

MTAG Services is the nation’s leading provider of specialized financial asset servicing since 1997. Located in Mount Pleasant, their diverse team works together toward the company goal of being the best-in-class niche asset service provider. Learn more about MTAG Services at http://mtagservices.com/

By Katherine Richards

Youth – Taquim, Corps Member

Taquim

Energy Conservation Corps

Not all love is love at first sight. This was the case for Taquim when he first joined the Energy Conservation Corps – not entirely convinced by the idea but willing to try something new.

Before his local pastor recommended the Sustainability Institute, you could find Taquim either lifeguarding at a local pool or playing soccer with his friends. Content with life Taquim was apprehensive about joining the Energy Conservation Corps but agreed to give it a go. Since then, he has been surprised by the skills he’s learned such as insulation, and the amount he would feel impacted by them. Taquim has not only been able to help out his friends and family by doing things such as insulting his parents house, he has developed a work ethic, skills he’ll have for the rest of his life, and that powerful feeling of knowing you’re making a difference. From the people that he’s met and the things that he’s learned from them, one of his favorite parts of going to work everyday has been to be with the crew. So much so that he is strongly considering returning for a second term. Taquim defines sustainability as a level that be sustained once you reach it. Although he may not not be saving lives anymore, he is making lives better, stronger, and more sustainable – so they won’t need saving anymore.

By Katherine Richards

Veteran – Ken, Marines

Ken

Marines, 1983-1989

Trying to encapsulate what exactly sets the Sustainability Institute apart from other organizations seems simple yet indescribable. In a single moment, experienced and expressed by Corps member Ken, the essence of the Sustainability Institute comes to life.

After his years of service in the Marines, from 1983 to 1989, Ken transitioned into a few different jobs upon return. He worked for a computer company, in a management position, retail, and security until through the Veteran’s Association he discovered the Sustainability Institute. Thus far, Ken has been able to experience and learn about weatherization, energy conservation, and teamwork. What he values the most, however, is the relationship between corps member and homeowner that exists on a personal level. At the heart of what makes the Sustainability Institute so unique, this relationship, as described by Ken, is one that is “mutually beneficial”. Instead of the typical repair man/woman sent from a generic, corporate-sized organization to simply “get in and get out”, the Sustainability Institute functions through a interdependent program that engages both parties. On a microscale, this process bears a great deal of similarities to the process of development on a global scale. Sustainability Institute’s approach embodies the essence of the old saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. One of the biggest flaws with the “get in and get out” approach is that it usually yields only a short term solution. Furthermore, not only are Corps members at SI trained in how to weatherize a house, they are educated on why it’s important and what purpose it serves. Thus, the Corps members are prepared to keep homeowners engaged in the process, informing them on what they are doing and why. This way, if an issue were to arise in the future, homeowners would be equipped with the knowledge they need to solve the problem and sustain the solution.

Now, here is that moment you’ve all been waiting for. Ken recalls, “there was one day where I didn’t show up to work because I was sick. When I returned the next day, the homeowner asked how I was feeling, which means that he noticed I wasn’t at the house that day.” The fact that the homeowner realized Ken wasn’t on site one day illustrates a perfect example of what exactly sets the Sustainability Institute uniquely apart; personal connection. It should come as no surprise that this part of working with the VCC is the one Ken values most because he is a firm believer in the importance of sustaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit. With a history as a bodybuilder, he has first-hand experience of how critical it is to maintain one’s health. Connecting with another individual may seem insignificant in the vast and complex scheme of the human body, but sustaining a personal connection can be tremendously impactful to the human spirit. Thus, for a single moment, the heart of the Sustainability Institute is exposed. By building sustainable homes, SI is in turn building sustainable lives.

By Katherine Richards

Youth – Chris, Corps Member

Chris

Energy Conservation Corps

We often underestimate how big of an impact we can have on someone or something. No matter how big or how small, how simple or complex, we always have a choice to leave a footprint and make an impression. Through the cracks of a house, Corps member Chris rediscovered this phenomenon.

Chris was introduced to the Energy Conservation Corps after his mom heard it advertised on the radio. As a musician, a singer, a producer, and a dad, Chris is no stranger to hard work. However, seeking something that would provide a positive and productive outlet to his life, the ECC seemed like a perfect match. Although one of the newer additions to the program, he has already refined a multitude of new skills and taken advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. One of his newly acquired skills is the art of insulation. “I didn’t realize how big of a difference sealing such a small area would make”, admitted Chris as he described his now proficient knowledge of insulation. And thus, Chris’s realization illustrates the immeasurable impacts of the ECC that not only benefit the homeowner, but the Corps member. While sealing a door in a house, a new door of self-discovery is opened. “I can now use the skills and training that I’ve learned in my own life; reducing energy use and cutting utility bills, I can now help myself and my mom”. Chris, like most of us, appreciates work that’s dynamic and hands-on opposed to sitting at a desk or taking orders. Here, success is measured by eliminating the cold drafts in a house and seeing a warm smile on the homeowner’s face. Physically seeing the difference they make in the lives of others provides an indescribable sense of fulfillment for the Corps members. Chris expressed the meaning of sustainability as “being able to sustain life”. At its very core, this is the dream that the Sustainability Institute is pursuing to create a reality.  

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