Center for Working Families

Cynthia and Euphemia are making sure New Yorkers know about GJGNY

Issue #8: September 6, 2012

Community organizers like Euphemia Martin and Cynthia Ngombe are Green Jobs/Green New York’s most valuable players.Every day, they use a combination of people skills and a deep knowledge of theretrofit process to help homeowners complete applications, work with contractors and track how projects are going. Read more about  their work and GJGNY’s community-based outreach approach, below.

Outreach worker interview:  Euphemia Martin, Public Policy and Education Fund (Southern Tier) 

Why is your organization doing this work?

It fits with our commitment to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers while also promoting Euphemia Martin from News 34 Interviewenvironmental justice. People shouldn’t have to waste money and endanger their health with leaky furnaces and inefficient appliances just because they are poor. We also want good jobs, and GJGNY has created lots of work for local contractors.

What attracted you to doing energy efficiency outreach?

This job allows me to work in my field, using my understanding of people to promote a better relationship between human beings and the environment. I get most excited when the phone is ringing off the hook and customers are lined up to sign up for the program.

Can you walk me through a typical day?

An average day includes anything from phone calls, setting up appointments, answering emails, tabling at events, making presentations and knocking on doors. We use local community TV and public bulletin boards. I also design and distribute literature to mail, interview applicants, and do workshops where I can walk homeowners through a whole audit application.

We recently tabled at the Binghamton Garlic Festival. The food was good and there was some lovely folk dancing, but few people signed up. Now we are concentrating on doing more presentations in workplaces, and Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, that sort of thing.  We also reach out to community leaders and officials all the time. For example, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo agreed to promote GJGNY on her Facebook page, and her 2,000-plus constituents via her mailing list.

To learn more about the outreach by the Public Policy and Education Fund and its partners, check out these news stories: Channel 12 News, Channel 34 News, YNN News

Outreach worker interview: Cynthia Ngombe, Sustainable South Bronx

Cynthia (left) talks to a community member about GJGNY and other programs at a tree giveaway.
Cynthia (left) talks to a community member about GJGNY and other programs at a tree giveaway.

Why motivates you in your work?

People need stability, and a stable and safe place to call home. Then they can focus on moving up the ladder, and meet their hierarchy of needs. This [GJGNY program] is an opportunity for them to make their homes more comfortable, affordable, and to get help doing needed improvements.

Can you walk me through a typical day?

A typical day starts off with planning to make sure we’re on target. I’ll meet with my team at Sustainable South Bronx and our partner, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC). We are strategizing on how to cover all the different communities by using GIS data to break down each neighborhood into clusters based on factors like home ownership level, housing type and income.

In each area, we reach out to faith-based institutions, homeowners associations, the community board and other community-based organizations. Then we set up audience presentations: a congregation after a service or homeowners at their meeting.

Completing a retrofit is an intense process from beginning to end. We help every homeowner with their paperwork. Last week, I spent a lot of time on site with a homeowner who ran into problems. By being on site I was able to navigate the potential pitfalls on behalf of the homeowner, and in the end we all learned from the experience.

To learn more about the outreach by Sustainable South Bronx and BOEDC, check out these news stories: GJGNY launch event, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene, Profile of Cynthia’s colleague Angela Tovar


GJGNY by the numbers

CBO outreach efforts launched in earnest in January 2012. As of August 31, the CBOs have attended or held at least 309 outreach events, informing thousands of New Yorkers about GJGNY and how to save money and energy while having a more comfortable home.

A sampling of GJGNY outreach events


This issue of Watt’s New? was prepared by Anthony Ng, Stephan Edel and Joseph Rappaport of the Center for Working Families.


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