Front Porch Blog

MLK Day of Service

Our awesome group of volunteers at the end of the day in front of Earth Fare grocery store in Boone, N.C.

Volunteers spent the morning at the Watauga County winter farmers market distributing light bulbs and spreading the word about energy efficiency!

On Saturday, January 20, students at Appalachian State University participated in the school’s annual MLK Challenge, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For this event, students volunteered with organizations across the High Country, completing “challenges” set for them by the hosting groups. Challenges included activities such as organizing offices, painting community spaces, chopping firewood and other projects to assist local agencies. For Appalachian Voices’ Energy Savings team, it was a big day of community outreach!

The Energy Savings team challenged our volunteers to educate community members about local assistance for improving the efficiency of their homes. Our volunteers gave out an energy efficient LED to each person who completed a short energy survey. By the end of the day our volunteers had handed out 50 light bulbs! One LED bulb can save up to $10.00 a year in electricity costs, meaning our volunteers helped encourage $500.00 in future yearly savings. This is money that could go back into the local economy and give families some extra spending money. Addressing residential needs for energy efficiency has huge potential to improve our local economy, relieve financial stress on families and make homes more comfortable to live in.

Not only do the people who received light bulbs benefit—saving energy is also great for our planet! Assuming that everyone who received an LED light bulb replaces an incandescent bulb and uses it for an average of five hours per day, we just saved 4,650 kilowatt hours of electricity every year! This is equivalent to about two tons of coal each year that will not be burned—just by replacing these 50 light bulbs. With climate change being such an urgent issue, this is quite a victory for a Saturday of volunteering!

Boone resident who stopped by our table at the Watauga County N.C. winter farmers market. She was excited to get a free LED and learn about our upcoming weatherization event!

In addition to handing out light bulbs, our volunteers also provided community members with information about home weatherization programs that are available in the High Country. These include the low-income weatherization assistance program from W.A.M.Y. Community Action and the Blue Ridge Energy (BRE) Energy SAVER Loan program.

W.A.M.Y.’s program provides free energy efficiency home upgrades to eligible families. To qualify, your household income must be below 200% of the federal poverty level. Services include air sealing and insulation.

The loan program through BRE allows members to borrow money for weatherization improvements to their homes—instead of getting a loan through a bank—and repay the loan on their electric bill every month. To qualify for this program you must own your home, have been a BRE member for at least two years and have good bill payment history.

There are other organizations in the high country helping with bill payment assistance and energy efficiency financing. To educate the community on various programs and connect people to contractors, local community partners and BRE management, Appalachian Voices is hosting a weatherization day at the Watauga County Public Library on February 1 from 3-7pm.

For the MLK Challenge, our volunteers also hung flyers for this event around downtown Boone and Blowing Rock, N.C. They were able to hand out 80 flyers to local businesses, which is extremely helpful in getting the word out! The event is a “walk in anytime” set-up, so we are encouraging everyone and anyone to come by and check it out! For more information, visit the event on our Facebook page.

Our awesome group of volunteers at the end of the day in front of Earth Fare grocery store in Boone, N.C.

Energy efficiency is a lot more than just replacing light bulbs. As more upgrades are completed, energy efficiency saves money, helps the environment by limiting the emission of greenhouse gases, creates healthy and comfortable homes and stimulates the local economy. This is what we hope to show people through our different events and outreach. We want to say a huge thanks to all the volunteers who helped us do that on Saturday. You really made a difference!

If you have questions about your home and the energy upgrades it could benefit from, please come to our event on February 1, and we will get your questions answered. Email Lauren Essick ( for more information on the event. We hope to see you there!

If you are interested in volunteering with Appalachian Voices and the Energy Savings team, visit or email Rebecca Bauer ( for an updated schedule of volunteer events.





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