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Foundation shares solar energy

Tori Roeck | Friday, April 1, 2011

Notre Dame combined its social justice and sustainability missions into one initiative when it decided to team up with the Let’s Share the Sun Foundation to install solar panels in Haiti.

To bring the cause closer to home and raise funds for the Foundation, the International Development branch of the Notre Dame Entrepreneurship Society will sponsor a dance Saturday. 

The Foundation, launched by 1985 Notre Dame graduates Bill and Nancy Jordan, works with other organizations to provide solar energy solutions to poor countries around the world.

“We invite people to join together to share their diverse talents, resources, and realities and help capture the sun’s energy and rays that improve the lives of people in poor communities,” Bill Jordan said. “It also enhances the lives of all those who choose to participate in the efforts.”

After an earthquake ravaged the island nation in January 2010, the Foundation supplemented the University’s efforts to rebuild the area by donating four solar panels, installed by a Haitian electrician, to the building that houses Notre Dame’s Haiti Program in Leogane, Bill Jordan said. 

Solar energy is a vital part of the Haiti Program’s master planning effort for the region, he said.

Jordan said his foundation is blessed to have good partnerships to work with, especially the foundation’s connection with the University.

“Notre Dame has been instrumental in facilitating the growth of the foundation,” Jordan said. “There has also been a generous spirit from the Notre Dame Haiti Program.”

Sophomore Cristina Couriorganized Saturday’s fundraising event, and said shewanted to raise awareness for Let’s Share the Sun because of its noble efforts in solar energy.

“Let’s Share the Sun is a perfect example of an organization wasn’t afraid to do something great no matter how difficult it was, and wasn’t afraid to say ‘I can do something good with the skills I’ve been given,'” Couri said.

Couri said the Let’s Share the Sun Foundation is an especially successful charity because it provides the members of poor communities with the ability to enact change themselves.

“It’s making a difference in third world countries, not by throwing money at them, but by giving them the tools to help themselves,” Couri said. “They’re not a charity that puts money into something they don’t understand, but they use their money and time and skills in the most effective way.”

Tony Pohlen, assistant director for administrative and academic affairs for the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity,helped coordinate both the dance and the lecture. He said the Let’s Share the Sun Foundation strikes the ideal balance of making a living and making a difference.

“[Bill Jordan] has a passion for trying to come up with solutions using the kinds of technology he knows from his for-profit work… for the benefit of people living in places like Haiti,” Pohlen said.

Mr. Jordan said he could not see running his business any other way.

“If [our for-profit work] was disconnected from the 1.7 billion people without access to electricity living in the poorest conditions in the world, I don’t think our lives would be as fulfilled,” Bill Jordan said.

Mr. and Mrs. Jordan will be the keynote speakers at the “Making a Living Making a Difference” lecture Tuesday, April 5th at 6:30 pm in Geddes Hall. The Let’s Share the Sun Foundation is associated with Jordan Energy & Food Enterprises, LLC, Bill Jordan’s for-profit solar energy company.

The benefit dance will be held Saturday in the LaFortune ballroom from 10 pm to 1 am. Tickets are $5.