Just as we were entering the covid-19 shutdown, our Finger Lakes Climate Fund had reached a wonderful goal: our 50th local carbon offset grant – this time to a family in Trumansburg. With this award – thanks to all of our offsetters! – we have collectively kept 4,300 tons of CO2 from our atmosphere by helping local families with more than $80,000 in Climate Fund grants to help make their homes more energy efficient and ready to run on renewable energy.
Recently we signed 3 more checks for almost $12,000 that will help single mothers in Newfield, Hector, and Groton convert from polluting fuel oil, firewood, and propane to clean and efficient heat pumps – lowering their energy bills and improving the health of asthmatic family members.
Of course, we are all on PAUSE right now. Our friends at Snug Planet and Halco won’t be able to do these projects and others in our pipeline until they are allowed to work again in people’s homes. But we wanted to reach out and share some of the stories of the people you’ve helped by taking responsibility for your carbon emissions and offsetting with our Climate Fund. (Thanks again offsetters!)
Through our partnership with HeatSmart Tompkins and NYSERDA, we’ve been able to combine additional incentives for heat pumps for lower-income households with our Climate Fund grants. Since we started last fall, we’ve given away $38,633 from our Climate Fund plus $43,000 from our special heat pump fund to 24 households in 5 counties. 

Amanda Russell was one of the first in our new combined program. She lives alone now in the home she bought with her mother in Spencer. Amanda is confined to a wheelchair and since her mom passed unexpectedly, she’s been on her own living on a tiny income. She needed a heat pump to provide a steady and low-cost temperature to keep her immune disorder in check, and Snug Planet watched over her and helped her every step of the way. Amanda joins a long list of customers grateful to the team at Snug Planet for their compassion! 

The story of the Wilson Family in Lansing is one that is familiar to us. A young couple starting a family buys a lovely old farmhouse only to discover they can’t keep warm in it! Nicole is in grad school so she did a good job of researching their options and the Halco team soon got them off fuel oil with a heat pump zoned system that could reach every room. With a new baby in their lives, they are happily enjoying uniform warmth in their country home.

Thanks to you we’ve also been able to help many retirees and widows like Shirley Mettler in the Town of Ithaca. Her oil furnace had failed two winters ago and she’d been using expensive and risky space heaters until her daughter connected her to our friend Erica with the Energy Navigators at Get Your GreenBack Tompkins. Erica helped Shirley tap into our program, and Snug Planet got­­­ her comfortable and safe with a new heat pump system.
We’ve been kept so busy with this flurry of grantmaking! And it pleases us no end to be able to funnel your offset donations to all of these deserving awardees. But now we are approaching a kind of crossroads for our Climate Fund. Thanks to you and our successful 2019 Seal the Cracks offsetting campaign, we had the funds in place to give away almost $40,000 in 5 months! But now the Climate Fund is almost empty again.
Of course, none of us are flying right now, and are not likely to board a plane again for many months. This is wonderful news for our atmosphere and the climate. But it also means the Climate Fund will no longer receive offset donations from our flights. We’d been working hard to recruit new offsetting partners from regional campuses, but now that is all on hold until at least the Fall. 
We’re hoping that all of us who have offset our air travel in the past will now consider offsetting our car travel and our building emissions as well. If enough of us do that during the shutdown, we will be able to continue our mission of making sure lower-income people are not left behind in the transition to clean energy. Making this transition requires plenty of capital investment up front in order to reap the low emissions and low energy bills of the future. That’s why it is essential that we keep helping those in need across our region.
Would you please join us in going for a Net Zero life? If we all pitch in and expand the scope of our carbon offsetting, we can keep the Climate Fund solvent and continue helping the many more applicants who are ready and willing to get off fossil fuels – if they could just get a little help from us.  Of course, if you can’t afford to join in right now, we all understand the precarious financial times we are in. But if you’ve been buffered thus far from the pandemic, we hope you’ll consider staying involved in climate activism by offsetting all of the emissions that you can, especially during this long PAUSE.

Please take a couple minutes now to offset any travel or building emissions for your home or business with your local carbon offset platform – Finger Lakes Climate Fund – and we’ll keep up our momentum on building community resilience with homes that are climate smart and climate ready.  And again, THANK YOU for bringing us to that 50 grants milestone for the Climate Fund!