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Efficiency Forward grant helps Urban Ministry bring comfort to clients

“Compassion and wholeness” – those are the watchwords for Urban Ministry, a faith-based nonprofit focused on supporting residents in the West End neighborhood of Birmingham and helping to build a thriving community there.

Those words translate into a host of programs and services provided by Urban Ministry that not only aid people in crisis but work to strengthen and revitalize the area.

Energy-efficiency upgrades benefit Urban Ministry from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

While Urban Ministry concentrates its efforts on lifting families, young people and the elderly, a visit to the nonprofit’s facilities wasn’t always the most comfortable experience. That’s because the offices lacked effective heating and air conditioning.

The Rev. Garrett Harper, executive director, said clients would “sweat in the summer and shiver in the winter” while seeking aid and support at the organization’s facilities. But thanks to an Efficiency Forward grant from the Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund (ABC Trust), those temperature swings inside the building have been tamed.

Established in 2007, the Efficiency Forward program provides grants to human services nonprofits to make needed energy efficiency improvements to their facilities. Those improvements help provide cost savings that a nonprofit can redirect to providing services to clients.

Examples of nonprofit agencies that qualify for an Efficiency Forward grant include food pantries, shelters, children’s advocacy agencies and recovery programs. To date, more than $1.5 million in grants have been distributed to nonprofits through the Efficiency Forward program.

With its Efficiency Forward grant, Urban Ministry bought an efficient cooling unit to replace an old window air conditioner that barely cooled the large, main office space, Harper said. They also purchased efficient window units to help cool three other offices.

He said the extra comfort for Urban Ministry’s clients when they come in for help is anything but a little thing for them – especially when it’s freezing or steamy outside.

“That glimpse of comfort in the midst of crisis makes a difference,” Harper said. “It’s one less trigger, one less obstacle to getting your life back together.”

Human services nonprofits can apply for Efficiency Forward grants several times a year. Grants of up to $10,000 are awarded, based on eligibility and other factors.

Revitalizing neighborhoods is part of Urban Ministry’s mission. (Contributed)

“Efficiency Forward grants are all about helping human service nonprofits who help those with real needs,” said Tanganyika Grayson of the ABC Trust. “These nonprofits want to be as efficient as they can, so they can help more people. Efficiency Forward grants are one way to help them do just that and provide them long-term savings on energy costs as well.”

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the ABC Trust was created by Alabama Power to work with community action agencies, nonprofits and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to support the energy needs of low-income families. The trust works with partner organizations to support weatherization projects and other basic human needs.

The trust reaches Alabamians across 60 counties in central and south Alabama. Colbert, DeKalb, Jackson, Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties are outside the trust’s coverage area. The trust is not funded with ratepayer dollars.

For more information about the ABC Trust’s Efficiency Forward grant program, call 205-257-0321 or visit powerofgood.com and click on “ABC Trust.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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