Local officials will join Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) students, staff, and Board of Trustees, for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the M. Christine Murphy Horticulture and Education Center - a LEED-Silver certified and planned Net Zero Energy greenhouse - on Friday, May 10 at 10 a.m.
The 1,780 square-foot adaptive and accessible building houses OSB’s award-winning Farm to Table program and horticulture therapy activities. The Center is named in memory of the late M. Christine Murphy, who was a former OSB Trustee, neighbor, and longtime friend of Overbrook School for the Blind. Construction, which cost more than $1 million to complete, was made possible in part by a generous memorial contribution from Murphy’s husband, and current OSB Board member, Sid Rosenblatt, as well as a grant of more than $200,000 from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club.
“The creation of the M. Christine Murphy Horticulture Education Center represents a tremendous opportunity for our students,” said Todd Reeves, Overbrook School for the Blind Executive Director/CEO. “Beyond the gardening, nutrition and health and wellness benefits, this project will no doubt amplify many long-term goals we seek to foster in our students, including vocational experiences, greater independence and the values of lifelong learning.”
“Sid and his family are extraordinarily generous supporters of OSB’s highest priority - our students,” said Warwick S. Wheeler, Overbrook School for the Blind Board President. “We are deeply grateful for Sid’s longtime partnership and his exceptional support of this project.”
“Overbrook was a place in Christine’s heart,” said Sid Rosenblatt, Overbrook School for the Blind Board Member and husband of late M. Christine Murphy. “She was forever telling people to go to campus to see the work that they do at the school. I know that this Center will improve the lives of OSB students in ways - gardening, horticulture therapy, employment training - that would make Christine proud. My family - David, Anna, Ruth and many of Chris’ family and friends - are honored to be able to support this project.”
A grant totaling $201,480 from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club provided the Center with a high-efficiency misting and irrigation system; manual solar shades that will balance the temperature in the greenhouse, and reduce the electric, heating and cooling costs; and a 50-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system which has been installed on the roof of OSB’s Nevil Field House.
“Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is honored to be a part of this project and to support the life-changing work of Overbrook School for the Blind,” said Mark Parsons, Green Mountain Energy vice-president and general manager. “We seek partners that share our goal of a more sustainable world, both for the environment and the community. Overbrook School for the Blind is one of those special organizations that enhances and educates the lives of the people it serves and makes Philadelphia a better place.”
During the PV system’s first year of production, it is expected to harness and distribute more than 85,000-kilowatt hours and, in the process, take a step towards the school’s goal of earning a Net Zero Energy Building certification for the Center.
“We are beyond fortunate to call the Sun Club a partner in this project,” said Reeves. “Many projects strive to include sustainable solutions, but often struggle. Thanks to the Sun Club’s generosity, our students will now benefit from hands-on learning experiences that have been infused with energy efficiency, resource conservation, and environmental stewardship. While we are striving for a Net Zero Energy Building designation, it is difficult to classify these student impacts as anything other than a net gain.”
Additional key supporters who made the project possible include: the Connelly Foundation, the McLean Contributionship, the Arcadia Foundation, the Jessie G. Roman Charitable Trust, the Philadelphia Foundation and the Howling Beagles Foundation.
About Overbrook School for the Blind
Since 1832, Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) has developed and delivered education that enhances the options available for students with visual impairment and other challenges so that they have the greatest opportunity to experience active and fulfilling lives. Any child with blindness or visual impairment (20/70 or less, as corrected), is under 21 years of age, and is referred by his or her local school district, may be considered for admission to Overbook School for the Blind. In addition to a full academic program, OSB students receive special training and participate in different activities that are important to the development of children who are blind or visually impaired. This includes orientation and mobility, daily living skills, assistive technology, music, art, and a full sports program. Overbrook School for the Blind also serves children with deafblindness in all of its outreach and educational programs. For more information, visit www.obs.org.
About Green Mountain Energy Sun Club
The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing sustainable communities. As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Sun Club® invests in nonprofits and focuses on projects related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Since the program’s founding in 2002, the Sun Club has donated nearly $7 million to more than 110 nonprofit organizations across Texas and the Northeast. To learn more about the Sun Club or to apply for a Sun Club grant, visit gmesunclub.org.
Gloria Yoshioka, Overbrook School for the Blind
Hunter Dodson, Green Mountain Energy Sun Club