Get to Know…Rhonda Sears
By: Sara Innamorato
An Interview with a ReEnergize Pittsburgh Ambassador, Rhonda Sears
Rhonda Sears is an active member of her community in Homewood. As a member of the first ReEnergize Pittsburgh program group, she defines what it means to be a community Ambassador in the energy efficiency field . During her time as an Ambassador, she organized a 60-person energy saving workshop with Larimer’s ReEnergize Ambassador, handed out more than 115 bags of energy-efficiency tools door-to-door, and talked to 340 of her neighbors on how they can start saving energy. Her efforts kept more than 250,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of our air.
Note: the following is an interview from October 2013, 2 months before the 2013 ReEnergize program ended. It originally was published on reenergizepgh.org.
GTECH: How would you describe yourself?
Rhonda Sears: I would describe myself as an active community organizer for the Homewood Neighborhood and have been for 20+ years. I am interested in rebuilding the pride and positive images of what the neighborhood once was and could be again. I am energetic, organized, and concerned about community development and using the assets and resources within, then seeking additional support outside of Homewood. I’m an advocate for better education in Homewood.
G: How would you describe your role as a ReEnergize Pgh Ambassador?
RS: My role as the ReEnergize Homewood Ambassador makes me proud to represent my community. I am helping my friends, family, business associates, volunteer partners and more. It makes me work a little harder to share my knowledge and resources. I am comfortable talking with people who can benefit from the information I have and I believe the feelings are mutual.
G: What has been the most rewarding thing you’ve experienced as an Ambassador?
RS: My most rewarding experience is helping several residents receive home improvement audits and actual home repairs on their homes. My second most rewarding experience was the Homewood Blitz [with Penn Future/Black and Gold City Goes Green] in August. We had 115 participants which can lead to a total carbon reduction of 236,716 lbs of CO2.
G: What has been most challenging?
RS: The biggest challenge I am facing is meeting residents who are living in a relative’s home and taking on the responsibilities of the property but have no ownership of the property. They live in the home and may have been living there for quite some time, but the deed is not in their names. So, most often, these residents can’t benefit from programs that can help with home improvements and repairs.
G: At the end of the day, what is your goals as an ambassador?
RS: To connect Homewood residents with energy saving tools, resources, programs and services that can increase their quality of life and help them to be better, wiser consumers.
G: Any advice for other ambassadors?
RS: Learn from one another. What I am experiencing in Homewood may be similar to what an ambassador may be experiencing in her neighborhood. Share resources and information. What is working for me may work for others.
Applications are open for the 2014-2015 ReEnergize Pittsburgh program. We are seeking community leaders from the Allentown, Hazelwood and Homewood neighborhoods. If you are a resident of one of these communities and want to help ReEnergize Pittsburgh, click here.