Crookston

Upgrades at Care and Share of Crookston improve energy efficiency

Serving critical needs of a local shelter & food shelf

Support services, hope &
clean energy

 

Care and Share Center of Crookston is a regional shelter providing “hospitality, support services, and hope” to those in need. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Care and Share worked with CERTs to help identify and support clean energy projects that improved energy efficiency and safety of the organization’s nearly 100-year-old building.

We spoke with Care and Share executive director Brian Halos and Northwest CERT coordinator Shannon Stassen to learn more about this work.

 

All of these projects were very important to our organization. By completing them, we have made the building safer, more comfortable, and more energy efficient. This energy efficiency will save on future costs as well.

Brian Halos, Director of Care and Share of Crookston

Supporting families, building improvements

Care and Share Center for Crookston is a regional shelter providing “hospitality, support services and hope” to those in need. The organization’s well-established homeless shelter and soup kitchen which have been in operation since 1986. In addition, Care and Share recently opened its New Hope Food Shelf to serve the community in 2020, after another food bank and shelf in Crookston had closed.

Across its different services, the nonprofit supports several hundreds of families in the area each month.

“Care and Share is an absolutely critical part of Greater Crookston and the surrounding area,” said Shannon Stassen, Northwest CERT regional coordinator.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, Stassen connected with the organization’s executive director Brian Halos to help identify and support clean energy projects to improve energy efficiency and safety of the organization’s aging, nearly 100-year-old building.

“We identified necessary repair and maintenance projects,” Halos said. “These projects had been necessary for some time and this funding helped us finally get them done.”

 

building.jpg

Photo: Care and Share Center of Crookston.

We were able to help Care and Share with these needed and immediate improvements in energy efficiency. It’s nice to tighten up some of the critical spots at such a critical time.

Shannon Stassen, Northwest CERT Coordinator

Energy upgrades improve operation and appearance

Halos applied for and was awarded a Northwest CERT Seed Grant that covered labor costs to replace windows and doors, repair the building’s leaking roof and cover boiler maintenance.

“All of these projects were very important to our organization,” Halos said. “By completing them, we have made the building safer, more comfortable and more energy efficient. This energy efficiency will save on future costs as well.”

With improved operation and appearance, both staff and community members have commented on the building’s noticeable improvements, Halos said.

 

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Photo: Building improvements included boiler, door, and windows.

 

Stassen noted the importance of supporting frontline service organizations like Care and Share, which may not have the capacity or resources upfront to divert from core operations, even when projects save in the long run.

“We were able to help Care and Share with these needed and immediate improvements in energy efficiency,” Stassen said. “It’s nice to tighten up some of the critical spots at such a critical time.”

Lessons learned for Seed Grant projects

With the energy upgrades now complete, Halos reflected on lessons learned working on these projects that could be helpful to others pursuing clean energy projects and CERT Seed Grants in the future.

“I would recommend completing these projects as soon as possible,” Halos said. “The sooner these projects are complete, the sooner energy savings begin.”

Halos added that getting proposals from multiple area contractors can help identify priorities and how to move forward on projects.

“I feel this allowed us to make informed decisions on how to proceed… allowing us to get the most for our money.”

Hopefully with an energy audit in hand, this will enable us to look toward other funding sources and create a plan.

Brian Halos, Director of Care and Share of Crookston

Setting sights on future projects

Looking ahead, Halos and Stassen have been in touch about other clean energy investments the organization could pursue. An immediate next step both identified is to work with the Minnesota RETAP program on a comprehensive energy assessment.

“We want to do an energy audit of the building and see what other ideas we come up with,” Halos said. “Hopefully with an energy audit in hand, this will enable us to look toward other funding sources and create a plan.”

Halos already knows installing new windows throughout the rest of the building will be high on the list of priorities.

“I’ve got a dream to replace all the windows in this building. There are maybe 170 of them, but we could start with the front and go from there,” he said.

Stassen believes helping coordinate clean energy projects across shelters and human service organizations in the area with support from local electric utilities, like Otter Tail Power, could be worthwhile, too.

“Looking at the whole building envelope, lighting improvements and building efficiency in shelter facilities and showing how this could be done across the region in a way that’s budget neutral for them. That’s the goal,” Stassen said. “There are opportunities to connect and show how it can be done.”

 

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Photo: Care and Share Center of Crookston's sign.

 

As these ideas and future projects continue to materialize, there is no shortage of day-to-day operations keeping Halos busy in his role. His drive to help people and the community keep him motivated, even after a challenging year.

“This is a tough and demanding job. Every day it’s managing chaos, but I love it,” Halos said. “I’ve seen a lot of people come through our doors, and the majority have left here better off.”

With its new doors and other upgrades installed and other projects on the horizon, the investments Care and Share has made are helping ensure the organization’s facilities are better off, as well.

Project Snapshot

 
  • Clean Energy Focus: Building Envelope & Heating Equipment
  • Northwest CERT Seed Grant: $5,000
  • Total Project Cost: $10,150
  • Other Funds: Organization's general fund, community church member donations
  • Project Team: Brian D. Halos and Jane Freeman with Care and Share
  • People Involved and Reached: 407
 
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