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Community Collaboration Helps Nonprofit Save Energy & Money During National NeighborWorks Week

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For the fifteenth year in a row, CHP continued its annual tradition of participating in a community-based project as part of National NeighborWorks Week by teaming up with the Community Foundation of the New River Valley (CFNRV) to help another nonprofit organization with a sustainable solution to budget-busting energy bills. 

The Mission, which ministers to low or fixed-income individuals and families who struggle with chronic or emergency food and clothing needs due to sudden loss of income or property, re-located two years ago to a historic, 5,000-square-foot brick building in downtown Pearisburg, Virginia. The brick building was highly energy inefficient, costing the nonprofit up to $3,400 each year in utility bills. For the past five years, the Mission has requested funding from the CFNRV to cover their high utility costs. This year, however, CHP and the CFNRV worked together to reduce the Mission’s need for annual funding requests by improving the facility’s efficiency, comfort, safety, and sustainability.

“We knew there had to be a better solution—a way to strengthen the building’s infrastructure so that the Mission could redirect money typically spent on energy costs to its clients,” explained Executive Director Jessica Wirgau.

According to Mission Director Amy Reynolds, the Mission has already noticed a dramatic difference in the building’s reliance on air conditioning since CHP volunteers insulated the attic space and reduced the attic’s air infiltration levels. “Almost immediately, we could see an improvement. We used to set our air conditioner to 68 degrees in order to stay cool in the summer, and now we’re comfortable with it set four degrees higher. We’re helping the environment by using less energy, and as a result we are saving money on electricity bills. Because of this, we’re going to be able to serve more people, which ultimately benefits the whole community. We are very excited!”

The costs of the project were covered by grant funding from NeighborWorks America; donations from CHP, the CFNRV, and the Mission; as well as in-kind contributions from 84 Lumber and Best Distributing.

In conjunction with the energy retrofit work performed at the Mission, CHP and CFNRV staff and board members also organized a month-long food and blanket drive to benefit Mission clients and spent a day sorting and shelving food and clothing donations, and brightening the Mission’s donation receiving area with a fresh coat of paint.

The three-day project took place during a nationwide initiative known as National NeighborWorks Week, in which NeighborWorks America network member organizations participate every June to bring about neighborhood change and awareness through local community improvement, beautification, education, and appreciation projects.

Gary Harris, a staff accountant with CHP, described his experience volunteering at the Mission, which was the first time he had participated in National NeighborWorks Week event: “More than anything, it is about a feeling of self-worth that you get when you give back to the community, knowing inside that you’re helping others and making a positive difference in the world. It’s that rewarding feeling that drew me here today.”

CHP is part of the NeighborWorks network, an affiliation of more than 245 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In 2014, the NeighborWorks network helped more 300,000 individuals and families with affordable housing and counseling. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

About The Community Foundation of the New River Valley
The mission of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley (CFNRV) is to enrich its community by providing professional management services to donors for their charitable causes, awarding visionary grants and scholarships, and nurturing collaborations in our community. Since 1997, the CFNRV has awarded $3 million in total grants and scholarships.

About the Giles County Christian Service Mission
The Giles County Christian Service Mission is an outreach ministry that is sponsored through the ecumenical efforts of the Christian community within Giles County. Not affiliated with any one particular denomination, church, or party, the Mission minister to persons who face chronic need due to low or fixed income or emergency need due to sudden loss of income or property. The Mission provides assistance with clothing, food, and finances as available, and referrals to agencies that provide financial and/or transient assistance.