Penn State Chapter Provides Water — and Hope — to Honduras

(The Penn State Student Chapter working on a racking system in Honduras. // Photo: Rachel Hennessey, Student Chapter President)

While most college students across the country spent their spring breaks in typical fashion, members of NECA’s Penn State Student Chapter were in Punta Gorda, Roatan, Honduras installing solar-powered water pumps as part of a service project. This is the seventh year the Chapter has sent a team of students to the Central American country to help local residents gain access to clean water.

This year’s project is the largest to date, helping 350 families in the local community. With the installation of a photovoltaic array, consisting of nearly 40 solar panels, there will be a continuous pumping of water to the town’s water supply. Previously, the community received approximately 50kWh of electricity per day from the local power company, and service was often interrupted. The installation nearly doubled the generation, as the community now receives a steady 99 kWh of electricity per day, which is sufficient to power a water pump. As a result, the community has access to water every day rather than only three days per week.

In addition to the installation, the Penn State Student Chapter met with residents, teachers, and school students to teach them about the water system and solar power.

“It’s something [that is] going to be affordable for the area and provide water access for a long period of time for low maintenance,” said Allison Midgett, coordinator of the Student Chapter’s service project, in her interview with the Delaware County Daily Times. “[We’re] going to educate the people in the area on how the water system works. We want them to be able to conduct maintenance and operate it when we’re gone.”

Launched in 2014, Electri International’s Student Passport Initiative Competition encourages NECA Student Chapters to complete a service learning project in developing communities in the U.S. or abroad. As part of the competition, Student Chapters submit proposals to the Electri Council on their service projects. Winning teams, judged and selected by the Council, receive cash awards to help fund those projects – $10,000 for one domestic initiative and $20,000 for one international initiative. The Penn State Student Chapter won the competition in 2014 and 2015, using the award to support their service work in Honduras.

Thanks to the NECA Penn-Del-Jersey and Western PA Chapters who helped support the students with funds for equipment, room and board, and travel. And, most of all, thanks to our students for their inspiring commitment to giving back. Their dedication is a testament to the caliber of young people we work with and we are privileged to help guide them along their path in the industry.

To read more about the trip, visit the Penn State Student Chapter’s blog here.