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LED Conversion Further Brightens Rehabbing Delancey Street Residents

Charles Preston of Delancey Street Foundation is spearheading the Brewster rehab facility’s conversion to LED lighting.
Photo courtesy Delancey Street Foundation
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LED lighting has lowered the electric bill at the centuries-old Brewster estate run by Delancey Street Foundation.
Photo by Charles Preston
  |  Download Hi-res Print Version

After helping thousands of lost souls come out of the dark to lead clean and sober lives, Delancey Street Foundation needed assistance with shedding light on itself. Hoping to spend more on rehabilitating residents and less on electricity at its centuries-old Brewster estate, the self-supporting non-profit put out the call for donations of energy-saving LED bulbs. Answering the call some 2,900 miles away was LEDtronics, a leading U.S. manufacturer of LED lighting based in Torrance, Calif.

“LEDtronics was the first to step up,” said Charles Preston, head of the foundation’s supply department. “Instead of making a profit from all these perfectly good LED products, they wanted to share a common bond with us. It’s about people caring about people.”

Since 1971, Delancey Street has provided residential rehabilitation services and vocational training for substance abusers, convicted criminals and others who have hit bottom. No traditional drug counselors or social workers are on staff at Delancey Street’s six “residential education communities,” as the foundation calls its facilities that span the nation. Instead, reliance is on the street smarts of the people who have already kicked their habits.

“Getting Delancey Street’s request for LED technology and then learning about their self-run program and policies that stress accountability made the decision to support a simple one,” said Shaan Lodhie, LEDtronics’ chief operating officer. “We’re especially impressed with the foundation’s track record of rehabilitating America’s underclass, and that the average Delancey Street resident remains there for almost four years – free from drugs, alcohol and crime.”

LEDtronics’ cross-country donation brought revolutionary technology to a restored piece of Colonial America. The Brewster residential education community has origins dating back to 1773, the year of the Boston Tea Party. LED technology now graces the two oldest structures of the 50-acre estate: a building where male residents now occupy, and a carriage house that once housed circus animals.

The majority of bulbs provided by LEDtronics were installed inside the property’s main building, a Tudor-style castle built in 1892 by circus entrepreneur Seth B. Howes. Until the donation, modernizing the lighting had been a void in an ambitious restoration of the estate, which Delancey Street purchased in 1980. The 13 original chandeliers within Morningthorpe Manor, as Howes named his not-so-humble abode of 22 rooms and 13 fireplaces, were made in the era when electricity was replacing gas lights in these fancy fixtures. All have been converted to LED, and reviews from the mansion’s current residents are, shall we say, glowing.

“We’ve noticed a great difference where the LEDs are installed,” said Preston, himself a clean and sober Delancey Street success story for four years. “There’s no comparison to old-fashioned bulbs. The chandeliers, living room, dining room, Carriage House – wherever there’s LEDs it’s a lot brighter and we’re not changing burnt-out bulbs as much.”

As for the original goal of lowering the electric bill, Preston said the finance department is smiling more since incandescent and fluorescent bulbs were switched out with LEDtronics’ LED bulbs of various wattages and dimmability.

“Our utility bill has definitely dropped,” the supply manager said. “Seeing the results, it’s a no-brainer that we now have a goal of converting the rest of Brewster and all Delancey Street facilities to 100 percent LED. Every dollar we save on electricity means more money spent on turning lives around.”

By David Dickstein

Originally posted in the Putnam County Times, April 3 2019

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