Lehigh's Hope House Center at 1205 Wings Way is leading the way in becoming "green" all in an effort to save energy.
"We planned that at the very beginning with our construction people, that we try be as green as possible," said Samra Beckwith, Hope's president. She oversees other Hope Houses in Lee County.
What's "green" in Lehigh is a visitor's first glimpse of two big signs on Beth Stacey Blvd., at the entrance street to the Hope House, which opened in mid May.
Sun panels power the lights that illuminate the Hope Hospice sign on the corner of Beth Stacey Boulevard and Wings Way in Lehigh Acres.
The two large signs, one marking the name of the Hope Hospice House and the other marking the addresses of other agencies on the new Wings Way, are being powered at night with solar energy.
"We wanted to use the power of the sun during the day so that at night the two signs would be well illuminated and they are until dawn," Beckwith said.
"We thought we would save money and we did because we had to do the whole new street off off Beth Stacey to the Hope Hospice House. Before the shorter street was on private property and led to a children's daycare center and to the home of Lehigh Community Services," she said.
With the construction of the road, workers would have had to lay wiring and install timers and that was a costly project for us. Thinking "green" as had been, we asked them to use sun panels to light the signs and we are saving a lot in electricity," Beckwith said.
"I think we are breaking some new ground here with the two big signs lit by the power of the sun. It could be the first such set-up in Lee County. I am not sure I have seen solar powered signs in any other locations," she said.
"The staff and management are very happy with the face that we are moving toward saving energy in any way we can, and this is just the beginning. We are looking at our other Hope Homes and may do the same thing," she said.
Kraft Construction Company worked with the new Hope House in Lehigh as a team and they brought in others who were the experts in solar panels being used to illuminate signs.
"They all have been team members in this movement to be more green," Beckwith said.
She said the new Hope House at 1205 Wings
Way, the name of the new road paid for by Hope Hospice, is ready to open another wing and are looking for employees. Currently, she said there are about 75 employees. They are also looking for volunteers.
The Hope House has 24 beds and one-third are being used already.
"I know things are beginning to move now that people are realizing that we have a beautiful Hope home in Lehigh," Beckwith said.
Beckwith said that Chris Racanus, the CEO of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, likes the idea and becoming more "green" could begin to happen at the hospital, too.
Soon, Beckwith said, the Lehigh Hope House will begin a program for the elderly. More information will be published.
"I'm glad we're going more green as it is the right thing to do. And with our signs now being powered by solar panels, it's probably going to last a long time, maybe indefinitely," she said.