Steps away from Downtown Minneapolis, the nonprofit Sharing and Caring Hands serves over 20,000 adults and children monthly in the Twin Cities who are without shelter, food, medical care or support. Thanks to the One-Stop Efficiency Shop, and a grant from CEE, they have also cut their lighting costs by 25%.
Founded by Mary Jo Copeland in 1985, Sharing and Caring Hands has a mission to provide for the needs of the poor. They supply numerous services including (but not limited to) meals, clothing, showers, shelter, transportation help, rent deposits , medical assistance, dental care and school expenses. With a foundation in the Christian faith, Sharing and Caring Hands strives to “reaffirm the self-worth of each individual and [assist] in that person reaching his or her greatest potential.”
Sharing and Caring Hands is notable not only for their approach to ministering to the poor, but also for their remarkable financial independence. Sharing and Caring Hands is funded entirely through donations, without any government assistance – and 93% of those donations go directly into program services. “We live on donations,” explains Dick Copeland, Mary Jo’s husband, “be it money or goods or services.” When they were approached about participating in the One-Stop Efficiency Shop and heard about CEE’s Nonprofit Energy Grant Program, they saw an opportunity to upgrade their equipment with a quick payback.
Sharing and Caring Hands purchased their first building in the North Loop neighborhood in 1988. Since then, they have doubled their original facility and transformed it into the Mary My Hope Children’s Center, built and expanded their Mary’s Place 92-unit transitional housing and built their 27,000 square foot flagship day center at 525 North 7th Street. While building, they installed “what were at the time really great lights – fifteen years ago,” explained Dick Copeland, Mary Jo's husband.
Along with a One-Stop Efficiency Shop rebate, Sharing and Caring Hands received a Nonprofit Energy Grant that reduced the cost of their lighting upgrades by 60%.
The rebates and grant made a difference, Dick explained. “Absolutely – we are all for saving money.” When asked if staff, volunteers or residents noticed a difference, Dick exclaimed “the good news is they haven’t! “ The new lights “came out being very much like the ones we had – but better.”
In the end, Dick estimates that Sharing and Caring Hands replaced 99% of their existing lighting with more efficient bulbs, installed by local contractor Cedar Creek Energy. And the benefits go beyond financial:
“It’s one solid better lighting system. The lights are very bright without being too bright and are the exact right color,” said Dick. “’When it was all done it looked better than we expected and we’re happy with it.”