Nonprofit Tree of Life Ministries, Dominion Energy and Charlottesville-based Local Energy Alliance Program have partnered to make the nonprofit’s transitional housing program more comfortable and energy efficient.
Tree of Life operates five apartments for women seeking shelter from domestic abuse or other crises. Regional Director for Western Loudoun Susannah Lee said they have housed 70 people over the past 10 years, including women and their children. Over a 12-18 month program, those women pay a low rent and meet with a mentor on their goals—financial, relationship or otherwise.
“We seek, when they leave us, that they’re in a better place, able to afford housing on their own, able to have a job, employment and a better life,” Lee said.
That stay will be a little bit more comfortable with a free assessment and upgrade from the Local Energy Alliance Program, or LEAP, funded with approximately $5,000 from Dominion Energy’s EnergyShare program.
LEAP Northern Virginia Regional Manager Ryan VanPatten said the organization starts with a variety of tests, from checking the insulation to evaluating how airtight a building is. They then devise a scope of work and submit it to Dominion for funding. In the case of the Tree of Life apartments, in addition to measures like adding LED bulbs, LEAP took the attic insulation from 2-3 inches to 17 and a half inches thick, he said. That took the insulation’s R-value, a measure of how well it insulates, from about R-9 to R-49.
“I tell people, it’s like an extra blanket on top of you, keeping in that heat in and that cold out,” VanPatten said.
“We are proud to support our partners with the resources they need to help those in their community,” stated Tonya Byrd, Community Engagement Policy Manager for Dominion Energy. “Everyone should be able to afford to heat and cool their home for both comfort and health. We are grateful to LEAP and our partners for helping meet this need through our EnergyShare program.”
The staff at LEAP work with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission to spread awareness about their programming.
“Working together with LEAP, our utility partners at Dominion Energy, and others, more than 8,700 families have had their homes improved from an energy-efficiency standpoint,” stated Robert Lazaro, executive director of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, as well as a board member of LEAP and former mayor of Purcellville, where Tree of Life is based. “These energy-efficiency programs are available to many residents in our region and I am grateful to the Tree of Life not only for participating in this effort, but also for the myriad ministries and services they offer to local residents.”
“I would encourage you, let’s not make this just a one-day event,” said Tree of Life Chief Development Officer Jordan Smith. “Let’s actually realize what the need is. Let’s get involved year-round and understand there is a need year-round.”