This is part of our story series, EKY Flood Relief: Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
When the flood hit, the town of Wayland in Floyd County was severely damaged – the Community Center in particular. The Center is the heart of the town of about 400 people. It houses the health clinic, community meeting space, city offices, and multiple museums, and is owned and operated by the Wayland Historical Society. The town has pulled together to fundraise in order to complete the needed repairs before it can re-open to the public. And they are trying to make their funds go even further by looking into rebuilding in an energy-smart way.
In January, energy experts from the Mountain Association will be visiting the community center to assess ways to lower energy costs and share information about new tax credits. The town hopes this partnership will lower energy bills and help community buildings become more resilient.
Since the center is already being repaired, this is a perfect time for the Mountain Association’s energy experts to complete the free energy assessment. This assessment will provide them with recommendations to help the community center become more energy efficient and will also provide an estimate on the costs and potential savings for installing solar panels. With the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, in 2023, nonprofits will be able to access the 30-50% federal solar tax credit in the form of a direct payment. This means that it will now make even more economic sense for nonprofits (and other organizations) to consider solar.
So far, the process to get a free energy assessment has been very simple, reports Uzzi Uresti, Wayland’s new full-time volunteer who is helping coordinate the energy assessment.
“It started with an online application that took about five minutes to complete. Then, the Mountain Association’s Energy Team contacted us to set up a meeting and asked the Historical Society to send 12 months of energy bills. Then a week later, we had a zoom call with the Mountain Association to discuss. Next month they will meet in person to tour buildings owned by the nonprofit and complete the energy assessment.”
Other businesses, government entities, and nonprofits in Wayland or the surrounding area are also invited to join the list of energy assessments planned in January. (To get started, sign up for a free energy assessment here!)
Last month, Uzzi, who is an AmeriCorps VISTA, moved to Wayland from Texas to serve the town. Over 12 months, he will coordinate flood relief efforts and help local community members work together to rebuild. The AmeriCorps VISTA program is a one-year, full-time paid opportunity to help fight poverty by assisting local organizations in expanding their capacity to make change in their local communities. Uzzi hopes others will join him soon as Wayland is seeking applications to bring on two more AmeriCorps VISTAs (Applicants should apply here by December 20).
“It’s been amazing. The people here are very welcoming, loving and grateful. I would highly recommend becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA to anyone interested in helping others in need. It’s good for the soul.”
Donate: To fund rebuilding efforts in Wayland, donations are being accepted by the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky through the Higher Ground Kentucky account at: Higher Ground Kentucky (fcsuite.com). Higher Ground Kentucky is a new nonprofit organization based in Floyd County, with a mission to help Eastern Kentucky communities overcome persistent flooding, starting with Wayland, KY. Visit their Facebook page Higher Ground Kentucky (facebook.com).
Helpful Tip 1: The Mountain Association offers free energy assessments to businesses, non-profits, and government organizations in Eastern Kentucky. Find more info here: Energy | Mountain Association (mtassociation.org) or Rebuilding with Energy Savings in Mind | Mountain Association (mtassociation.org)
Helpful Tip 2: AmeriCorps has many programs that can help with flood relief and community programs that fight poverty or provide relief during a disaster. For instance, AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps State & National, and AmeriCorps NCCC. Nonprofits and government agencies in Eastern Kentucky can apply to host AmeriCorps members in their community. Wayland is currently seeking two more AmeriCorps VISTAs to serve as paid volunteers for one-year to help with flood relief and fighting poverty.
About this story series:
Mountain Association is partnering with What’s Next EKY?! and Vision Granted to host a series of stories showcasing the incredible flood relief efforts across the region in response to the flood on July 28, 2022. With a goal to share hope and spark new ideas about ways you can help in your own community, these stories will showcase the creativity and hard work of local people, provide helpful flood recovery tips, and feature stories of neighbors helping neighbors. If you have a story or helpful tip to share, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please learn more about this series here.