$125,000 weatherization update to Chrysalis House Inc.

Around Broadneck: Magothy River Middle student sparks state, nonprofit partnership

By: Maureen ThomasContact Reporter

Capital Gazette

September 8, 2017 1:03 PM

Simmone Wallace at Chrysalis House after the weatherization update

Simmone Wallace at Chrysalis House after the weatherization update. (Courtesy Photo / HANDOUT)


Thanks to the initiative of a Magothy River Middle School student, the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) recently completed a three-month, $125,000 weatherization update to Chrysalis House Inc. in Crownsville.

Simmone Wallace, now an eighth-grader at MRMS, initiated the process in the autumn of 2016 as part of her science fair project. Initially, Wallace focused on solar panels and wanted to test the practical implications of her project

After investigating cost-saving initiatives of solar through her science fair project, Simmone said she wanted to make that “a reality to help [more] women in need.” Chrysalis House provides treatment services for low-income women with substance use and mental health disorders. Each year, it serves more than 100 women at its Crownsville and Baltimore locations, while providing program opportunities and care for their children.

Simmone researched grant opportunities, and looked at Chrysalis House’s BGE bills so she could accurately predict the amount of energy savings Chrysalis House would gain if they installed solar panels. She then made a presentation to the Board of Directors at Chrysalis House.

However, before solar panels could be installed, Chrysalis House needed to go through an energy audit and a weatherization update. To determine the next steps, Simmone worked with her father, Rob Wallace, to reach out to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). DHCD determined solar energy was not the first step. Rather, Chrysalis House would be best served by the Federal Department of Energy Weatherization program, which is administered by DHCD.

From there, DHCD connected the Wallaces to the Community Action Council of Howard County. Because of the weatherization updates, which included replacing or repairing six heat pumps, installing an additional heat pump and seven heat pump water heaters, redesigning and installing a building ventilation system using energy-efficient, energy-recovery ventilators, as well as sealing and insulating the attics and rim joist in the basement, Chrysalis House expects to see an immediate 10 percent reduction in its energy bills. With weatherization efforts complete, Chrysalis House will be investigating the possibility of obtaining solar panels. 

“The State of Maryland is proud to assist in Chrysalis House’s efforts to improve energy efficiency at their addiction treatment facility,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth C. Holt.

“Simmone’s initiative in reaching out to Chrysalis House has now resulted in a major impact in our home here in Crownsville,” said Chrysalis House Executive Director Christopher J. McCabe, “It has been an exceptional project, providing savings to Chrysalis House and comfort for staff, women, and children, particularly in these hot summer months. We are so grateful to Simmone.”

This is an example of state and nonprofit collaboration, thanks Simmone’s creativity and drive, said Bita Dayhoff, president of the Community Action Council of Howard County.

“It is incredible what can be accomplished when individuals and organizations collaborate,” Dayhoff said. “The impact is magnified.”

Simmone, who wants to launch her own nonprofit, is a “stellar student,” said LeslieWatson, social studies teacher at MRMS. Malia C. Johnston, Spanish teacher, said Simmone is an “incredible student.”

“Not because she checks off a bunch of boxes for standards that need to be met, but because she goes beyond those expectations,” Johnston said. “She gives her best effort, thinks outside the box, never backs down from an academic challenge, perseveres to not just have a breadth of knowledge, but also a depth of knowledge, and she encourages her classmates to strive for all those things, too.”