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Energy Outreach Colorado Broadens Assistance by Helping the Helpers

01 May. 2017

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Energy Outreach Colorado Broadens Assistance by Helping the Helpers

Lowering costs for nonprofit leads to expanded services 

Breaking a destructive cycle of homelessness and addiction is giving 25-year-old Denelle the chance to provide a better future for her baby daughter. Joy House, a transitional housing program operated by Providence Network in Denver, is providing the sanctuary to do it.

And, because Energy Outreach Colorado installed equipment at Joy House to lower its energy costs, they were able to hire additional staff and expand support services for Denelle and other women and children transforming their lives within its walls.

“Being in this place where we have such a support system is amazing,” said Denelle. “It’s more stability and structure than I’ve had in a long, long time.” She and her baby moved to Joy House six months ago after she completed an intensive drug addiction recovery program. She plans to enroll in community college this fall and eventually become a licensed addiction counselor.

“My family was homeless for five years while I was a teenager and after my mom died in a shelter, we all went our separate ways and I just lived on the streets,” she added.

Energy Outreach Colorado’s mission is to help low-income Coloradans afford energy, and in 1997 it pioneered a unique initiative called the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Program to extend its support of vulnerable families and children by lowering energy costs for the nonprofits that serve them. 

Joy House, one of four transformational housing sites owned by Providence Network, is among about 350 nonprofit facilities that EOC has weatherized since 1997. “Energy Outreach Colorado has contributed in a big way to helping us expand our impact because we were able to use the money we saved on energy costs to add staff,” said Karen Huston, Deputy Director at Providence Network. “With more staff, our residents get more attention and we can offer expanded programs, like equine therapy for the children.”

At Joy House, EOC replaced the aging boiler system and installed energy efficient lighting, windows, refrigerators and air conditioning units. The work was funded with grants from the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships and Xcel Energy and has resulted in nearly $5,000 in annual energy cost savings.

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