A large crowd showed up to Aslan Brewing Company’s Summer Solar Ale release party on Thursday, June 30 to drink beer, listen to live music and to help combat homelessness.
Aslan Brewing Company collaborated with Itek Energy and Western Solar to release a new Summer Solar Ale, with 10 percent of all the beer sales from the release party going towards the cost of installing solar panels for Lydia Place.
Lydia Place is a nonprofit organization that has provided housing and other services to homeless families in Bellingham for 26 years. Shultzie Willows, the development and outreach director, expects the solar panels to help save Lydia Place an estimated $53,000 over the next 25 years.
The solar panels will be installed on the new Baker Place housing, located in the Birchwood neighborhood. Baker Place, which is run by Lydia Place and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, will provide seven permanent housing units to homeless women and their families.
“It’s really exciting for Lydia Place to see how the community wants to contribute back to the organization and vice versa,” Willows said.
The money that Lydia Place will save will allow them to better serve the community and try to achieve their ultimate goal of ending homelessness. About 70 percent of their funding comes from private sources, said Emily O’Connor, the executive director for Lydia Place.
Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville was present at the release party to thank Aslan Brewing Company, Western Solar and Itek Energy for putting the event together to raise money for Lydia Place and to promote solar power. Mayor Linville also wanted to show support for Lydia Place, an organization that she supports personally.
Providing housing and services for homeless people in Whatcom County is something that Mayor Linville has advocated for. In 2012, Bellingham voters passed a property tax levy increase that raises approximately $4 million per year toward homeless services in the city.
“Our community is small enough to work together but large enough to have some resources,” Linville said.
Western Solar supplies renewable energy and prides itself on reinvesting into the community for the last 12 years. Markus Virta, who does system design and technical sales for Western Solar, said that it is important to build relationships and work with other businesses in Bellingham to help organizations like Lydia Place.
“It’s a cool example of what three fairly unrelated companies, with a strong bearing in the community, can do when they get together,” Virta said.
Aslan Brewing Company, the event’s host, prides itself on being a B Corp, which means they are running a business that is socially and environmentally conscious. Beth Carlson, the marketing director at Aslan Brewing Company, said that they are always looking to do what’s best for the community, not just what is best for them. In this case the two overlapped. Carlson felt that their partnership with Lydia Place made sense because they provide services to homeless people in Bellingham. They were also eager to work alongside businesses that build and install solar energy.
“It’s kind of covering a couple of bases for us,” Carlson said. “It covers the clean energy base and it’s covering the social good base.”
Chelsea Ford, who came to the release party, usually prefers to go to the brewery when the crowds are smaller, but was interested in trying the new beer.
“Beer and community, doesn’t really get better,” Ford said.