It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week: Here Are a Few of Our Clean Energy Volunteer Superstars!

This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.

Guest Blog | April 19, 2018 | Energy Policy, Events

It’s volunteer appreciation week and SACE has so much to be grateful for. Since the start, we’ve depended on Southern citizens to support our work – whether that means signing onto a letter, tabling for us at an event, or showing up at utility board meetings to speak out. But it wasn’t until the launch of Floridians for Solar Choice – a coalition dedicated to bringing more solar to the Sunshine State – that I had the chance to experience a SACE campaign that absolutely could not succeed without massive grassroots support. In 2016, with the help of hundreds of volunteers across the state, we were successful in two major solar ballot victories despite being severely underfunded and understaffed. The Solar Choice campaign went toe to toe against a $26 million utility-backed campaign and won! It’s not enough to say that volunteers helped us succeed. Volunteers were the main reason we succeeded. 

Now, SACE is launching campaigns all over the region that will again require People Power to push clean energy forward. We already have volunteer leaders stepping up to support this work, and we could not be more grateful. So, this week, we want to celebrate you.

If you’ve made a phone call to a local representative on one of our issues, thank you.
If you’ve attended a local event or rally, thank you.
If you’ve shared our blogs or actions on social media with family and friends, thank you.
If you stood outside a polling location to advocate for our issue, or driven a far distance to speak a utility board meeting, thank you. 

While we can’t feature our entire army of volunteers, here are a few superstars that have gone above and beyond to support clean energy in the South:

1. Virgie Banks, Memphis TN –  Memphis Has the Power Campagin

Nominated by Sandra Upchurch, SACE’s Energy Justice Manager:

Sandra: “Virgie has been my longest supporter for over four years now. Her organization partnered with SACE 25 years ago! Virgie is a big name with Shelby County Democratic Women and former West TN Democratic Women Voters. She has been an active volunteer in Memphis, and even traveled with us to Counce, TN for the TVA Board Meeting to show support. Then, Virgie took an event bigger leap and traveled in February with a group of concerned Memphians all the way to Chattanooga and provided public comments at the TVA Board to speak up about their recently proposed grid access fee that would result in an additional fixed charges on electric bills throughout the Valley.”

2. Rudy Beharrysingh, Asheville, NC – Clean Transportation & Electric Vehicles

Recommended by Sarah Gilliam, SACE’s Communications Coordinator:

Sarah: “I am nominating Rudy because of his tireless commitment to educating and advocating for electric vehicles. In his role as president of the Blue Ridge EV Club, Rudy is forever planning community events in Asheville that get people behind the wheel of an EV. He is also quite plugged in and tracking energy policy issues in North Carolina, like the recent VW settlement and Duke Energy’s solar rebate program. Thank you Rudy for all you do!”

3. Sarah Younger, Gainesville, FL – Floridians for Solar Choice

Recommended by Alissa Jean Schafer, SACE’s Solar Communications and Policy Manager

Alissa: “When you think about volunteers who consistently SHOW UP and GO ABOVE AND BEYOND, fitting in time to give back to important causes despite jobs, family, and the many other things that fill our schedules, Sarah Younger always comes to mind. Whether collecting petition signatures, contacting elected officials, speaking at meetings and events, helping get the word out about solar information meetings, or even creating elaborate costumes, Sarah has been a leader among volunteers for years and we would be amiss to not thank her as often as possible.”

4. Paul Slentz, Nashville TN – Tennesseans for Solar Choice Campagin

Nominated by Jason Carney, SACE’s Clean Energy Program Manager:

Jason“I am picking Paul because he has been a pleasure to work with. He was at the board meeting in Chattanooga. He went to Nashville Electric Service (NES) with me and helped orchestrate Climate Nashville’s ask of NES. He invited me to speak to Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light (TN-IPL). I’ve appreciated his sincere interest in educating people on the TVA issues and working with SACE in doing so.”

5. Sharon Smith, Memphis TN – Memphis Has the Power Camp

Recommended by Sandra Upchurch, SACE’s Energy Justice Manager

Sandra: “Sharon has been a key leader for Memphis Has the Power and traveled to both Counce and Chattanooga to speak out against TVA’s rate hike proposals! Sharon is a retired Major from the Memphis police department of aviation. She was the first woman and African American police helicopter pilot.”

6. Simon Rose, Miami, FL – Next Car Pledge Campaign:

Recommended by Dory Larsen, SACE’s EV Program Associate

Dory: “Simon has been a vocal supporter of electric vehicles and the NextCar Pledge. He made buttons and has promoted the Pledge at events. Simon supported our electric vehicle webinar as a guest presenter and EV owner.  He contributes on our planning calls and is always bouncing around great ideas to support faster EV adoption.”

7. Captain Dan Kipnis, Miami, FL – High Risk Energy/Nuclear Power Work:

Recommended by Sara Barczak, SACE’s Regional Advocacy Director

Sara: “Captain Dan Kipnis is a larger-than-life person who has supported SACE’s effort to stop risky new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point since the beginning and has been long-concerned about the impact the existing Turkey Point reactors have on the South Florida environment. As a longtime fishing captain and Biscayne Bay advocate that is concerned about climate change, he has dedicated decades of work on various committees regulating and enhancing the unique estuarine ecosystem and the freshwaters of South Florida. For SACE, he has joined us in various interventions before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, supports our current Clean Water Act case regarding Turkey Point and is always willing to attend a meeting, press conference or event.”

Inspired by these clean energy champs? Ready to get to work? Take a few minutes to sign up with SACE to get involved today! 

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