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Solar Initiatives Soar

September 22, 2020
Categories: Our Community

Sustainable. Green. Eco-friendly.

These are words we’re all familiar with nowadays but for some, like Cal Redekop, they’ve been a way of life for a long time. Cal, a professor emeritus of sociology who grew up in the Anabaptist faith, has long been driven to be an environmental steward.

A resident of VMRC since 2001, Cal has been involved in numerous ways over the years, including as a volunteer at the VMRC owned Farm at Willow Run. Working on the farm gave him the opportunity to know first-hand the improvements that would allow the farm to optimize resources, one of which being solar power. In 2017, his family foundation donated the funds for the addition of a 9.9 K photovoltaic solar array on the barn roof that now provides the majority of electric power for farm operations. The positive impact the solar array had on the farm led Cal and VMRC Foundation Director Les Helmuth to begin discussing the addition of solar panels to Village Hall, VMRC’s multi-purpose gathering space. In late 2019, the two brainstormed a grant program in which Cal would make the initial donation to solarize Village Hall while inviting other residents to participate as well. As part of the program, any Park Village resident who wishes to install solar panels on their home gets $3000 to do so. So far, eight residents have contributed to the fund, two have installed solar panels and five have inquired or are in the process of installing. Cal installed solar panels on his own home last year, hoping to inspire his neighbors to do the same - that hope seems to be coming true.

When asked what drives him to give back in this way, Cal says he is “very concerned for the world today’s young people have inherited” and he wants to do what he can to leave things a little better for the generations to come. Cal’s dedication to bringing this project to fruition is truly special. Says Les Helmuth, executive director of the VMRC Foundation, “Sometimes we get the privilege of walking in holy ground territory and whenever I have the opportunity to talk with a resident about their dreams and vision for their legacy at VMRC, I know that’s the territory I’m in.” Cal’s legacy is already evident to anyone who visits our farm or campus and will continue to be for many years to come.

For more information on the solar project, contact Les Helmuth at lhelmuth@vmrc.org or 540-564-6556.

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