malloryBy: Mallory Johnson,
AmeriCorps VISTA

The January Saturday morning was cold, but sunny, as people began to file into the basement at Arlington Christian Church. Soon the large room was full of adults and children – more than 60 all together – talking, laughing, and sharing stories. Everyone was gathered for the second hands-on home energy workshop being offered by Bluegrass Greensource, the How$martKY energy efficiency program, and Kentucky State University. 

What made this room different than previous workshops were the participants. Because of the success of a December home-energy workshop, GLOBAL LEX, a program of the City of Lexington that serves our immigrant, refugee, and limited-English proficient populations, reached out to see if we might replicate the workshop for some of the immigrant and refugee communities that it works with. 

Our friends at KSU created this short video the day’s events – check out the video below to see more of this wonderful workshop in action:

Gathered in the basement that Saturday morning were Lexingtonians from diverse backgrounds, representing five different language groups and whose countries of origin include Nepal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Sudan, and others. Despite potential barriers, the presenter, Chris Woolery of the How$martKY program, led the group through a brief presentation before participants broke into small groups to move between stations covering such topics as air sealing, duct sealing, and the benefits of using energy efficient light bulbs.

New to this workshop was a station designed by Isabel Taylor, GLOBAL LEX’s Multicultural Affairs Coordinator. Many of the immigrants and refugees who come to Lexington from warmer climates do not have familiarity with home systems – such as a thermostat or home appliances – that many of us never think about. This combined with the fact that many of these individuals and families live in extremely inefficient homes, creates vulnerabilities that are more pronounced than in other populations. 

This vulnerability means there is also a big opportunity to make huge impacts with relatively inexpensive energy efficiency upgrades. Our partners at Kentucky State University stepped up in a major way to provide the energy efficiency starter kits for this workshop’s participants. By the end of the morning, all of the kits were handed out, and many of the attendees were asking questions about what other steps they could take to make their homes more efficient and protect themselves against high electric bills. The motto of the How$martKY program is “Energy Efficiency for Everyone,” and this workshop proved that this is true.