Howard Center Uses Grant to Buy Solar Lanterns for Burlington's Homeless | 802 Much | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Howard Center Uses Grant to Buy Solar Lanterns for Burlington's Homeless

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Example of a solar lantern. The exact model has not been selected. - © HIROSHI TANAKA | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • © Hiroshi Tanaka | dreamstime.com
  • Example of a solar lantern. The exact model has not been selected.

A new program will allow some of Burlington's less fortunate to see better at night and recharge.

The Howard Center plans to use a $2,500 grant to buy about 50 solar lanterns for homeless folks in and around the Queen City. Funded by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, the powered-by-the-sun light sources will also have USB ports, said Adam Brooks, a Howard Center spokesperson. That "could be a good solution to an issue that a lot of people in the homeless population have, and that's access to electricity," he continued, especially for those who call the woods home.

The VEIC grant focuses on the concept of energy justice, according to Brooks. While most people take for granted the power outlets in their homes and workplaces, the homeless frequently rely on open-flame light sources or use outlets at restaurants, stores and libraries. The lanterns will grant some independence, he said.

The Howard Center is still researching the best lanterns to buy, as they don't want ones that are too bulky or heavy. Staff will hand them out this fall at Here to Help clinics, which are generally held on the third Saturday of each month at the First United Methodist Church in Burlington. Volunteers offer free hot meals, showers, haircuts, clothes and bike repairs.

Brooks said the lanterns are just another way to help neighbors in need.

"Our hope is that this idea will sort of catch on, and maybe other organizations or businesses will look at this as a unique solution to something that homeless people go through every day," he said.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Lighting the Way"

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