While interviewing Ginger Warden, it’s easy to tell how much she values working with Green Light by the genuine honesty found in all of her responses. Ginger has been volunteering with Green Light every week for the past three months to serve through the free energy efficient light bulb program. As a regular volunteer, she is able to offer insight into how Green Light is impacting the New Orleans community, not only through the residents it serves but also through the volunteers it works with.
When I ask why she chooses to continue volunteering at Green Light, Ginger replies that it’s simply because she has had so much fun so far. “I enjoy doing what I do here!” she exclaims. “The people are cool, and I actually have fun going out and meeting other people and changing light bulbs.” Although Ginger seems to appreciate all aspects of volunteering and her favorite part is working with her volunteer partner, Jude. Not only does partnering with Jude make the volunteer experience more lighthearted, it makes it easier as well. Ginger elaborates, “We’ve got a really good dynamic. We know what each other needs to do, and we go in there and we get the job done so we can get to the next house.”
After working with the light bulb program for such a long time, it’s clear that Ginger knows her stuff. I inquire about what a typical day looks like for a volunteer. She tells me that it varies. “Some houses, we go in and its three light bulbs. And some houses it’s 85. You just never know, and that’s kind of what keeps us on our toes,” she explains. Despite this disparity, Ginger appreciates Green Light’s all-inclusive services. “That’s the great thing about this program,” she continues, “you can be poor or rich and you still get the same treatment. Everybody gets the opportunity to do this.” Ginger also asserts that, despite the uncertainty associated with entering a stranger’s home, “99% of the people that I’ve been to are just inviting, warm, excited about the program. It’s just really cool.”
Even though she’s visited countless houses over the past three months, Ginger has one home that stands out to her as a volunteer. “Jude and I had gone to this house in Jefferson Parish, and they were refugees from Pakistan. And they hadn’t been in the country for very long. They had just bought a home and were trying to save money, and they found out about the program and they were really, just, excited about it. They were excited about the garden program also, and were just so thankful that there are programs like that here.” Hearing this story reveals to me the significant impact New Orleans residents have on Green Light volunteers, proving that this relationship isn’t merely one-sided. Ginger’s experience demonstrates the powerful, mutual bond volunteers are able to form with the surrounding community while serving.
Ginger makes an effort to take Green Light’s teachings to heart. She assures me, “It really has affected me. I have all energy efficient light bulbs in my room. It’s like I’m also taking responsibility.” In addition to practicing energy efficiency, Ginger also preaches it by sharing information about Green Light’s work with others in her life.
Though she has already made such an impact in the community, Ginger is still planning to further her work with the program in the future. “It’s just been a wonderful experience and I look forward to continuing my volunteer work here.” For someone who appears so grateful for the opportunities Green Light has given her, I can only imagine the gratitude others must feel for the help she has given them. It’s clear that Green Light is lucky to have such a dedicated and compassionate volunteer.
written by Sydney Cookshaw