KWH Volunteer Stories: Jeremiah Kalmus
Kilowatts for Humanity has helped change the lifestyle of many developing communities over the past 12 years through first-time access to electrification. While we’ve been able to relay those transformations and success stories to our supporters, we don’t often recognize the changes that our volunteers experience through implementation trips and other volunteer activities.
We got to sit down with volunteer Jeremiah Kalmus who has been with Kilowatts for Humanity since February 2019. Jeremiah found the organization through his roommate, who was an engineering student working alongside Dr. Henry Louie and the rest of the KWH team at Seattle University. The first KWH meeting he attended resonated with him and he soon found his role working with the microgrid team. KWH’s positive impact left him excited and inspired to volunteer in Cheeba, Zambia later that year.
Why is this cause so important to you?
Jeremiah: “I’ve always been someone that looked for meaning. How can I make an impact? It’s hard to find early on in your career, especially with engineering. I took Seattle University’s mission statement to heart, to educate the whole person. This was something I saw as a chance to help a community outside the U.S. It was a rare experience I never had before.”
What impactful changes did you see first-hand?
Jeremiah: “After five days of working in Cheeba, the lights came on. I’ll never forget this moment. The whole community centered and gathered around. It was almost like a celebratory lighting of a Christmas tree. The lights were a central focal point of the village that brought the community together. We played a movie for the kids; it was the first time they ever saw one. Giving them power, electricity that they didn't have before, hit home and gave a symbolic meaning to the kiosk. That experience made the whole trip worthwhile and the reason why I continue to help KWH is for a moment like that. It was eye opening to see that we really are all the same. We have the same needs and desires to uplift the community to do better.”
What kinds of people do you meet through KWH?
Jeremiah: “There are so many kindhearted people at KWH that come together to make this happen. I had an internship the summer prior to joining KWH at Puget Sound Energy where I met and grew close to an individual during my time there. We hadn’t spoken after but the first meeting (KWH) I went to, he was there. He said he was really interested in KWH and the event. I was happy to see him there, and it showed me that really like- minded people come to KWH. I actually got employed from someone I met on the implementation trip, if you know the name Rafael Castro. I met him in Africa for the first time, we got to talking, it ended up being a good match and I got hired. I forever have this story that I got my first job from a guy I met halfway around the world.”
If someone were looking for an organization to volunteer at, why would you recommend KWH?
Jeremiah: “The really cool thing about KWH and the reason why I’ve stayed over the past 2 years is that you meet people there that really care about the world and about each other. I always point people in the direction of KWH if they’re service oriented. Overall, I just feel incredibly blessed to have taken those first steps and gone to that first KWH meeting.”
In order to continue impacting the lives of those without electricity, we welcome and value any donations we receive. Check out our donation page here!