From Melinda Marcus, intern with Handshake 2.0:
As a kid, I struggled with organization and clutter. The wisdom my mother shared with me is that if I cleaned up right when the mess happened, I wouldn't spend hours cleaning my room on the weekends. What valuable advice my mom gave! (Although I rarely did listen to it, in fact - I still don’t! Sorry, Mom!)
After my interview with Ed Tuchler of Shelter Alternatives, Inc., I feel as though my mom's advice is a part of defining a social entrepreneur.
If a social entrepreneur is one who makes a difference in the community and helps people by filling their basic needs, then Shelter Alternatives is one of them. Shelter Alternatives is an architecture firm whose main aim is to provide green, energy-efficient, beautiful homes. Shelter Alternatives has been around for 20 years and is involved in building and remolding projects all around the New River Valley.
When asking Ed Tuchler, the owner and project manager of Shelter Alternatives, his definition of a social entrepreneur, he replied, “Using one’s ethics and morals for business to better the community.”
Shelter Alternatives boasts that they are very environmentally friendly, making sure they are responsible for how they use material and in what material they use. On top of that, they plan for the long-term. They believe that what they are building is "immortal," and should last long after they have passed.
One exciting new adventure they undertook about a year ago is called Energy Check. In this project they “check” old homes for their energy efficiency, and suggest improvements. This program helps homes to be greener while looking beautiful.
Ed’s passion comes from his own personal ethics and moral values. He believes that it is vitally important to give back. He lives by the simple idea that, “If everyone makes a small difference, we can make a big difference.”
So why is Ed Tuchler in the New River Valley of Virginia?
The first reason is, of course, Virginia Tech. Ed came to Virginia Tech as an architecture student, fell in love with the area, and decided to stay here. He finds the area "naturally beautiful, rich with natural resources." The people around here are "like-minded people" who are very socially aware. They live responsible lifestyles and are very interested in being more green (a popular trend in the NVR Valley - See Sustainable Blacksburg).
Making a small difference seems to be the goal of Shelter Alternatives, and maybe even other social entrepreneurs. Is that all a social entrepreneur can make? A small difference? With over 1.5 million non-profits in the United States alone - that is a lot of small differences! (Source: NCCS.)
So my mom's wisdom is perhaps part of the puzzle to social entrepreneurship.
To change the world through entrepreneurship, all it takes is making a small difference (just like cleaning up the small messes). THANKS, MOM!
Being a part of the Virginia Tech Student Alumni Associates (SAA), I understand the importance of making a small difference within one community. In SAA we do service projects each week within the university and community, helping the Alumni and homecoming events go well, and to be a success.
You can follow the entire Defining the Local Social Entrepreneur series by Melinda Marcus.
Melinda Marcus is an intern for Handshake 2.0, a member company of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks, located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, a technology park, a research park, and a science park on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The research park provides high-technology companies access to university faculty, university facilities, university equipment, and business-related support services. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center fosters commercialization and technology transfer of university research for both high-tech start-up companies and established technology businesses.