Duke University Students Spend Spring Break in Fresno Installing Solar Panels to Low-Income Family


We don’t normally think of Fresno as a Spring Break destination for college students, but it is for some students who’ve chosen to spend their vacation lending a helping hand to people who need it.

Students from Duke University in North Carolina teamed up with a local solar company on Friday to install solar panels to a family in need in West Fresno.

GRID Alternatives is a non-profit organization out of Fresno that installs solar panels to low-income families. Every year, the company gets college students to volunteer their time to help out. On Friday, the college students installed six panels onto the roof of Danette Bliss’ home.

Mechanical engineering major Jenna Poplausky was among the seven volunteers.

“There’s so many ways you can help people, but to actually do the manual labor to install something, that’s not only going to help the homeowners, but just help everyone by producing cleaner energy,” stated Poplausky. “We’ve learned, I mean, just a ton, about how solar works, to how to actually get it installed, how to set up the design, which why they have to face in order to get the most sun.”

Karina Gonzalez is the Workforce Development Director for GRID Alternatives Central Valley. She said, “Energy costs are starting to become on the rise, and so solar that we’re providing the homeowners today is going to help save them up to 80-percent on their utility bill.”

Bliss said she and her husband look forward to the cost savings.

“We both have low income jobs, so we’re pay check to pay check like many families, so we’re just so grateful to have solar and have that bill paid,” commented Bliss.

Bliss said she’s even more grateful to see these students learn and grow.

Cal State East Bay is the next university to lend a helping hand installing solar panels to another Fresno family. That will be in two weeks.

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