Rooftop solar array at the Nashua PAL building in Nashua, NHNashua PAL (Police Athletic League), the Nashua chapter of the national nonprofit youth organization, has gone solar at summer’s end – the culmination of an exciting community effort comprised of organizational partnerships and individuals. Donations from New Hampshire Charitable Fund (NHCF), private citizens, and ReVision Energy amounting to nearly $50,000 made this project possible and are enabling Nashua PAL to step solidly into its 4th decade serving at-risk youth with a renewed sense of purpose. The new solar array is projected to save them more than $100,000 over the 25 year warranty period and onward.

ReVision brought Nashua PAL’s solar proposal to NHCF – an ongoing partner of ours – who provided the lead grant. ReVision then raised two individual contributions and added its own support to launch the solar project, highlighting the ability that individuals have to effect great change through direct donations.

Nonprofit solar projects like Nashua PAL’s are too small for our Power Purchase Agreement model, but citizens can feel empowered to bolster the efforts of ReVision Solar Impact Partners (RSIP) with small but generous donations to organizations they care about. Helping nonprofits cut costs, fight the climate crisis, and continue valuable programming generates an immeasurable ripple effect.

Complete Renovation Alongside Energy Transformation

A complete renovation project led by the nonprofit Building On Hope is also underway at Nashua PAL’s Community Center & Youth Safe Haven, a testament to the broad support for this important location. Executive Director Shaun Nelson shared, “We would not have launched this undertaking so quickly without these partnerships and funding sources. Everything came together at the right time.”

Photo courtesy of Nashua PAL

Active since 1989, Nashua PAL has resided in a 103-year-old building in the Tree Streets neighborhood since 2004. Shaun conveyed that solar energy’s role in this transformation is right in line with their programming to educate and empower the city’s youth.

“When solar became a reality for us, it was a great synergy with the renovation project we have going – but in general, the concept of adding a component to the physical building where our kids come in every day, where they can be reminded that they’re part of this bigger picture, lines up with everything we’re trying to teach them. Beyond that, we’re excited to work with volunteers to build specific curriculum around the project.”

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Tree Streets is one of the most racially and economically diverse neighborhoods in New Hampshire, and Shaun acknowledged the struggles of growing up in a neighborhood that has many statistics around crime, but emphasized the community’s inherent strength. “Tree Streets has some of the best and strongest families that you’ll ever meet. Some folks are living here because they can afford the rent, and many others have lived here for generations.”

With an awareness of generational succession, PAL’s mission involves supporting the kids of Tree Streets and the surrounding community, and encouraging leadership skills that transfer to their young adulthood. Shaun imparted, “We see that generational struggles can be broken with education and leadership programs, which we’re providing every day. We let our young people know how close the dream of college can be, or the power of proper employment – all the empowerment we can fit into a young brain, we’re doing it.” He elaborated, “Largely, PAL’s work is to encourage the right kind of leadership in this neighborhood, to give them the right kind of skills. The kids are the best advocates for their home, and the kids just get taller and then they own the neighborhood!”

Cultivating Trust

Nashua PAL youth and officers gather in front of a truck, wearing masks

Photo courtesy of Nashua PAL.

Nashua PAL’s namesake connection with law enforcement entails the nonprofit partnering with Nashua’s police department, especially an assigned officer who invests their time with the organization in a variety of ways. “We just started a term with a new PAL officer,” Shaun explained. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about goals – so, just like with any volunteer, we find out where the passions are and then build some programming around it. Ben, the new officer, will be spending a lot of time creating health and fitness programs for youth, but essentially the whole program is designed so that we can create opportunities for kids and cops to be around each other in a positive way.”

The volunteer element is key to PAL’s success, Shaun added. “PAL is an organization that survives by the goodness of others – our hundreds of volunteers that make programming happen, and the hundreds of people that write checks to support the programs.”

Shaun conveyed that they were all excited to return to their indoor space, albeit with some current limitations on occupancy. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many activities, but did not interrupt programming altogether, and Shaun is undoubtedly positive about the future. “What’s next for us?” he reflected. “We’re not just going to celebrate this new building and keep doing the old. We’re going to take the solar and this new renovation and start planning bigger and better, and we’re pretty excited about the future of PAL.”

The renovation should wrap up by the end of October, Shaun estimates, and then they’ll be back in the building before the snow starts flying. “That will be a glorious day!” he affirmed.