Last Friday, Feb. 7, Serenity Soular hosted a wellness event in the Eldridge Commons at the Science Center. Students were treated to snacks and essential oils, got to make their own tea bags, and also took home some free succulents.
Serenity Soular, an organization targeted at solarizing North Philadelphia, started in Fall 2013 when Swarthmore Professor Giovanna Di Chiro partnered with .O, the caregiver at Serenity House Community Center. The organization was officially launched in December of 2014 by Swarthmore students, faculty, and residents of North Philadelphia. Since their 2014 launch, Serenity Soular has undertaken various initiatives to solarize North Philadelphia, including the installation of solar panels at Serenity House in 2016 as well as at the at Philadelphia Urban Creators and the People’s Garden in 2019.
Lilly Price ’20, a longtime member of Serenity Soular, shared the reason for the organization’s most recent event. Although the event was originally supposed to assist with crowdfunding, it ended up being celebratory.
“At the time [of] the event we thought that we wouldn’t have reached out most recent crowdfunding goal of $10,000,” said Price. “[At the] last minute, [we received] a donation of $2,000 from a professor. And so we just raced through the finish line and the event ended up being a celebration, which is why we had yummy food and a little plant giveaway.”
Price shared that the goal of Serenity Soular’s most recent crowdfunding was to finance the organization’s transformation into a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit and worker-owned collective. Making such a transition would allow Serenity Soular to become exempt from federal income tax and become a cooperation that is owned and managed by its workers.
“Right now on the horizon, definitely is incorporation into a worker-owned collective … We have a couple of people already who have been in leadership in Serenity for a long time, but we’re going to need more people who can install,” said Price. “The whole goal is to employ people and to make all the profits from the work go back to the people who are serving their community. Corporation is the biggest thing on our agenda, but then the student group has our own things that we do on campus, like events.”
Serenity Soular has already started its hiring process and its transition to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and worker-owned collective. Price shared how the organization has begun hiring board members and has been actively working on meeting the necessary requirements to make such a transition.
“This $10,000 we just finished raising is to go towards purchasing solar installation equipement, getting training, and hopefully some salaries for people who’ve been working diligently for the community for a long time now,” said Price.
Featured images courtesy of Lilly Price