Workforce Development Director, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
I learned the meaning behind the saying “Seeing is Believing” recently when I visited a few sites training young adults in the field of weatherization. I started with a visit to PACE Inc. YouthBuild in New Bedford- and what a start it was. The staff at YouthBuild escorted me and other visitors to a nearby site where Arnie Lopes and Tem Blessed from YouthBuild worked with their crew to weatherize the basement and renovated attic of a two-family home. It was all business on this site, and we were fashionably outfitted with safety gear appropriate for handling fiberglass, caulking, and other materials.
We started in the basement, where we learned how to properly insulate pipes and install rigid board in the basement ceiling. These techniques help homeowners decrease energy use by preventing heat loss and tightening up the basement by creating an air barrier between floors. Next we headed to the house’s top floor, which was a mid-renovation attic space that will be converted into conditioned space with bedrooms for the homeowner’s children. I climbed into the attic crawl space, where I met Bryce who was already hard at work installing fiberglass insulation. As we finished the area, we chatted about Bryce’s path through YouthBuild where he learned valuable construction and weatherization skills and landed a full-time job working as a crew member for Arnie’s company. Bryce was lauded by his colleagues for his work ethic and persistence.
My day continued with a quick trip west to YouthBuild-Fall River, where I met the ‘great-eight’ of YouthBuilt EcoSolutions – a social enterprise component of YouthBuild offering services in energy lighting audits, energy-saving window panels and LED light manufacturing. I met eight highly motivated young men who had just kicked off one of their first business meetings of this new enterprise. From there we headed across the street to the Fall River YMCA, where I helped to conduct a lighting audit of the facility. I was in awe of the knowledge these young entrepreneurs had and how they confidently and skillfully audited the building. I learned a lot about how much money and energy can be saved by retrofitting a building with new lights – and so will the YMCA!
Meeting these young adults in New Bedford and Fall River who are working so hard in the YouthBuild programs reminds me why I entered the energy and workforce development arenas in the first place. Their passion for the being a part of improving the environment, and their dedication to a hard day’s work is inspiring and sure to impact the world. I’m excited to keep finding new ways to support programs like YouthBuild.