Give or take a few, there are 18,613 nonprofits in Louisiana. These organizations usually have the following in common: a clear vision, a deep passion to make a positive difference and a light-bulb-above-the-head idea. And in the case of musician Andi Hoffmann, that idea is actually a light bulb, specifically an energy efficient compact fluorescent light, or CFL.
Andi started his nonprofit, Green Light New Orleans, in 2006. It is one of the many organizations to germinate in response to Katrina’s destruction.
“I was touring with my band and wanted to find a way to offset the pollution our tour created. We calculated the pollution and figured out how many CFLs had to be installed to offset that amount.”
So with each concert ticket sold at his shows in Europe, he asked the audience to donate funds to buy CFLs for New Orleanians rebuilding their homes and their city.
The fundraiser was a huge success, and Green Light New Orleans was born. The organization continues enabling low- and fixed- income households to switch from incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient CFLs that reduce carbon emissions and utility costs.
Since its inception Green Light New Orleans has provided 235,000 bulbs, lit up more than 9,000 homes and worked with 4,500 volunteers.
The volunteers come from all over the country and from all walks of life. On this day, Andi is saying goodbye to four interns from Oberlin College who just finished their month-long internships.
Alexandria, one the interns, mentioned on Green Light’s blog that she volunteered because she wanted to make a difference in how New Orleans sees environmental issues and get to know the New Orleans community.
Andi is certainly pleased with how this one small idea has had such a significant impact on the community and marvels at the magic that happens on both sides of each light bulb transaction: “Something happens as the volunteers help the residents install the light bulbs. They start to talk, and they learn about one another. It’s exciting. They begin to understand how small changes can make a very big difference in the world.”
Shine A Light with Pamela Marquis illuminates the stories of those people who need a little recognition for the many ways they make New Orleans the best place in the world to live.