July brings sunny days, the Fourth of July, and America’s favorite pastime—baseball!
To celebrate the season and the generous groups and individuals that are teaming up to empower education in Haiti, Twende Solar would like to announce our very own All-Stars.
Coaches // Educate Haiti
From the start, this project has been under the guidance of the devoted educators from Educate Haiti. This nonprofit, based in Indiana, has been the spearhead of efforts to construct new buildings and hire and support qualified educators in the small rural town of Durissy. The husband and wife duo, Cathy and Don, visit Durissy schools twice each year to check in on what the students and community need, show their support and lead service projects.
Designated Hitters // John Grieser and Brandon Little
John and Brandon represent Elemental Energy, a Portland-based residential and solar PV installation company. As college friends and graduates from the Renewable Energy Engineering program at Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), John and Brandon realized the need and importance of giving the gift of electricity in developing communities across the world—a notion they call the “Photovoltaic Oath”. Through John and Brandon’s wisdom, spirit and expertise, the nonprofit Twende was formed in 2015, and they’ve participated on every Twende project to date.
Pitcher // Milholland Electric
For those that aren’t aware, Twende receives generous support from soon-to-be solar adopters through the ‘Save a Watt, Give a Watt’ program. Enter, Brian Milholland: A veteran, seasoned electrician and successful business owner, Brian is the newest addition to the Twende Board. Brian’s company, Milholland Electric, specializes in all things electrical, and excels in the solar PV space. Through Biran’s talented sales team and philanthropic solar adopters via the Save a Watt program, Milholland Electric is responsible for donating nearly $5,000 to date to the Twende cause and he’s just getting warmed up!
Closer // DigitalKap
As with every Twende installation, a foundational principle to partner with local contractors and technicians in-country. This practice not only supports the local economy, but the relationship building with partners on the ground offers an opportunity to ensure the ongoing operations and service for a long-lasting and functional solar system. In Haiti, Twende will leverage the local expertise from an installation company called DigitalKap, a trusted commercial and residential installation company centered in the capital of Port-au-Prince. DigitalKap’s technicians will oversee and commissioning of the system, as well as provide ongoing operations and maintenance support for years to come.
Catcher // Rolls Surrette
You can consider 72 Rolls batteries as the “catcher” of electricity on this Twende Project. These deep cycle, lead-acid batteries will “catch” and store the generated electricity for use in the school’s classrooms in order to power lights, fans and computer equipment. Twende would like to thank the Rolls Surrette company for deeply reducing prices for batteries on this project!
First Base // Unirac
A challenging position that anchors all the other bases, our first base all star is Unirac—the framework and backbone of the solar system. Unirac has generously donated all metal roof racking mounts and rail equipment to make the Durissy school roof mount possible. Unirac’s racking is well grounded and secure, just like a first base player. Did you know: over the last six years Unirac has supported humanitarian projects across the globe, ranging from a hospital, orphanage, and fish farm, to Twende’s most recent install in the rural mountains of Peru! Because of Unirac, the Durissy schools will appreciate the difference that solar can make as an affordable and reliable source of power.
Second Base // Heliene
Heliene turned a double play at second base when they donated roughly double the original amount asked for. Heliene is a U.S. and Canadian manufacturer of high-quality residential, commercial and utility solar panels since 2010. Thanks to Heliene, students will benefit from 24kW of solar panels to power their lights, fans and a future computer classroom!
Shortstop // CED Greentech
Arguably one of the most demanding positions in baseball, our shortstop for the Haiti installation is played by our friends at CED Greentech, a full service wholesale distributor of solar, electric, and renewable energy products. CED has proven to be a monumental resource by securing a deeply discounted BOM, or balance of materials. Thanks to CED, critical items like the wiring, conduit and breakers will make the solar arrays in Durissy function. We are grateful for CED’s discounted components and shipping assistance.
Third Base // Outback Power, Inc.
Rounding out the bases at third, we are fortunate to have the support and steeply discounted materials from Outback Power, a design and manufacturing company in nearby Arlington, Washington that provides off-grid and grid-connected solar plus storage products. We are thankful for the technical support and deep discounts that Outback has provided to this project, as well as the ability to represent products designed and produced in the Pacific Northwest!
Left Field // Drew Lebowitz
One could argue that Drew “came out of left field” when he signed on to be Twende’s Project Manager for the Haiti project. As a recent transplant to Portland, Drew was a newcomer to the Twende family as he has been living abroad for the last decade developing off-grid renewables in both Panama and Haiti. As a trained engineer, PeaceCorps alumni, and experienced installer and crew lead, Drew is a major asset to this team. Furthermore, Drew’s deep knowledge of Haitian customs, culture, and Creole have proven to be an invaluable asset to this effort.
Center Field // Marissa Johnson
This position is generally where the team puts its best all-around athletes—the players with the best arm, fastest legs and good hitting. As such, Marissa Johnson, Director of Twende, plays this position for the Haiti project. Similar to how the center fielder has a view of the entire field, Marissa’s ability to direct the team while maintaining the overall goals and vision is unmatched. Having participated from start to finish on the project in Peru, Marissa has become a skilled procurement specialist and verifies that all parts and materials make it to the project site safely and on-time. Moreover, her coordination and outreach with project sponsors, volunteers and in-country partners make her the MVP of the team. She’s a verifiable center fielder!
Right Field // Father Yves Anis
In baseball, right fielders often back up defensive plays from the infield by supporting throws to second base. In our case, our local champion, Father Yves Anis, assumes this role. Serving as Twende’s eyes and ears on the ground, he will provide the team with pictures and frequent updates from the village. Father Yves lives year-round in Durissy; in fact, the schools are constructed on his family’s land that was donated to Educate Haiti more than ten years ago. He has been an impassioned supporter of this project from the start.
We’ve got a deep bench! The rest of our all-star lineup includes a talented list of players that will be instrumental to the success of this project. These volunteers are not only dedicating their summer vacations to the cause, but also raising funds to help cover the remaining costs of the system in order to empower education in Haiti. We invite you to meet the devoted team of volunteers that are sure to make this project a grand slam!
Andrew is an experienced solar PV installer and U.S. Army veteran looking forward to making a difference in the lives of the students in Haiti. “This solar install has numerous benefits, but in the end, is really all about the schoolchildren. Let’s make a difference in those children’s lives!” -Andrew
Caleb is a veteran of the Marine Corps and has a wealth of experience as a construction materials technician. Presently, he is pursuing a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering at OIT. "The Twende mission aligns with my personal goals of bringing renewable and sustainable energy to all people. I’m hopeful that by helping the people of Durissy move toward clean and reliable solar energy, we may increase their energy independence and improve living standards." -Caleb
After serving in the Marine Corps, Daren moved to Oregon in pursuit of a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering at OIT. “I have dedicated my life to building an education and career that I can use to help develop sustainable infrastructure in the developing world.” -Daren
Kevin has been working in the solar industry for over a decade and at his request, his company, Heliene, has generously donated the panels for this project. "I am particularly excited about bringing solar to a school as education is the best way to get people out of poverty. Schools also are a vital hub for the community during crisis events like hurricanes." -Kevin
As a student of energy engineering in Brazil, Lucas has set a goal to participate in humanitarian solar projects as a way to benefit both people and planet. "I love to help people. I'm certain that with Twende Solar’s team we can make a huge positive impact in the lives of the students of Durissy, Haiti." -Lucas
Kevin works every day to help residential and business customers make the switch to solar. "On-demand electricity is a luxury we take for granted every second of every day. I've always believed in the transformative power of renewable energy, particularly solar, and being able to contribute to a project that showcases that power and see it firsthand will be a truly rewarding experience." -Kevin
Currently, Carlos works as an energy entrepreneur for a startup called Solergy Systems that prepares solar energy kits for off-grid applications and power backups for schools and clinics in rural and developing countries. “I want to be hands-on helping communities in need. Powering a school is a noble cause with a huge impact- and I want to be part of it!" -Carlos
As an alumnus of our recent project in Peru, Zach was bitten by the Twende bug and his valuable program development experience will take Twende's community education game to the next level. "I've always looked for ways that this technology can benefit the greater global community. I’m excited to join this trip and connect with a different culture by sharing the benefits of solar!” -Zach
With more than eight megawatts of solar PV installed to date, Peter brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this project. As a retired lighting and efficiency consultant, Peter formerly worked for the U.S. consulate and travelled all over the world retrofitting U.S. consulate buildings to be more energy efficient and resilient.“Someone needs to be mature and take care of the kids on the trip!” -Peter