Emily Clements is a volunteer at Our Lady of the Road drop-in center. She is using her chemical engineering degree to help install solar panels that will reduce the costs of this place dedicated to making a difference for the homeless community in South Bend, IN.
Emily Clements: We’re at Our Lady of the Road, which is a drop-in center and laundromat café in downtown South Bend. Doors open at 8 a.m. and people come in, sit down, and they have a cup of coffee and there’s a bunch of volunteers that are usually in the kitchen making breakfast.
It’s really nice because one of my favorite things about this place is that the guests come and they sit down at tables and they don’t have to stand in a really long line. Because it’s more like a restaurant, it’s more dignified.
At this building, we use electricity for so many of the things that we do, not just lights, and heat, and air conditioning, but to do the laundry, or to heat the water, or for the refrigerator. Just because there’s so much happening in this building and so many people get to share this space, the electricity bill is like really high, so solar panels would help reduce the cost that would have to be paid on an electricity bill.
The panels will be right in this roof area, because this is the chapel, so you’ll be able to look out over the panels that are along this area of the roof.
We will still be connected to the grid. When the panels aren’t producing electricity, whether it’s a really cloudy day or it’s night time, we just take electricity from the grid. But then on days where we’re like it’s super sunny outside and this place might not be using like all of the electricity that’s being produced by the solar panels, Our Lady of the Road will be able to sell the electricity back to the grid.
I haven’t seen you in a while.
Friend: Hey. Good to see you.
Emily: Good to see you, too.
Emily: I’m also excited that like the guests that come to Our Lady of the Road will be able to see the solar panels and know that they’re a part of this work, too, and that this is all of our world and that we all have a duty to take care of it and to take care of each other.