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Olivia Truesdale

Girl discovers how energy-efficient lighting can help homeless

Last summer, Olivia Truesdale had a bright idea. The 13-year-old from Raytown decided to put her passion for both helping the homeless and helping the environment through an energy and lighting audit for Hillcrest Transitional Housing’s site in Independence.

Her audit showed that just by switching to LED lighting, the ministry could reduce their energy footprint by 65%. That savings of $1,800 could then be used in other areas to help the homeless they serve.

“Converting to modern LED lighting is one of the few ways to reduce carbon footprint that actually pays for itself through energy efficiency,” said Tim Truesdale, Olivia’s father and area distributor of Yellowblue LED. “It’s good for the checkbook and it’s good for the environment.”

For Hillcrest, the chance to reduce expenses was a welcomed opportunity. Hillcrest provides transitional housing and other programs that combat homelessness by building the self-sufficiency of families. Its flagship program is a 90-day timeframe in which clients receive rent- and utility-free housing. In exchange for housing, clients agree to follow program guidelines, find and maintain full-time employment, attend life skills classes, participate in community living, and follow a budget plan.

“At Hillcrest Transitional Housing we teach our clients how to budget well and make every dollar count,” said Tom Lally, President and CEO of Hillcrest. “As an administration, we’re committed to setting an example by using our resources wisely. Yellowblue LED has provided us a new opportunity to do just that.”

Following her energy audit this past summer, Olivia presented her findings to Hillcrest’s leadership and convinced her dad to cover the upfront costs of the upgrade. In addition to bringing his company on board for the project, Truesdale helped Hillcrest apply for a rebate through Independence Power and Light.

Yellowblue LED and Hillcrest will celebrate their partnership and energy savings project at a lighting ceremony on September 26 at 4 p.m. at Hillcrest’s Independence housing site, 406 N. Spring Street in Independence, Mo.

According to her father, Olivia has had a heart for serving the homeless since she was 5. She would create items to sell under a brand called Homeless Helpers. As she has gotten older, her efforts to help have expanded, but her heart for helping the homeless has remained the same.

“People may think that those in need are in countries far away, or maybe they just don’t know how to help,” said Olivia. “Hillcrest is doing their best to help those here in our own community. This was an opportunity for me to do the same.”

As a company, Yellowblue LED says it is committed to four corporate pillars: faith, freedom, family and fun.

“We love working with groups like Hillcrest because we know what they will do with the money they save: give more people an opportunity at a fresh start,” said Truesdale.