Joel Ideson [left], Brian Nash [centre] and Carolina Barberi [right] are looking to hand out 100 ‘Humphreys’ to deserving members of the community. /Submitted

New initiative looks to honour frontline and essential workers

By Mike Baker

Carolina Barberi and Joel Ideson have taken the pledge – now they’re looking for the local community to do their part.

The couple, who recently announced they had taken ownership of Haliburton Solar + Wind, are paying homage to frontline and essential workers who have consistently gone above and beyond during these past 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Community is really important to the both of us, and so as new business owners we knew pretty quickly we wanted to do something to give back to this area,” Barberi said. “We came up with the idea to donate money, $500 quarterly, to the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation [HHHSF]. Our hospitals need our support now more than ever.”

But that didn’t feel quite good enough, she added.

“I had this feeling that we should do something more. There are so many people who have worked crazy hours, and have had to make large adjustments to their life because of this pandemic, and we felt it was important to recognize these people, to acknowledge them, and tell them ‘thank you’ on behalf of the community,” Barberi noted.

And so, having already worked closely with the hospital foundation to set up their quarterly donation, Barberi and Ideson borrowed from a popular ongoing fundraiser to launch their 100 Bear Pledge.

Since 1998, HHHSF has raised around $150,000 for hospitals and healthcare facilities in the region by leading an annual fundraiser initiative selling stuffed animals. This year, the offering is ‘Humphrey’ the bear.

After learning of this drive, Barberi and Ideson committed to purchasing 100 stuffed bears and distributing them to “deserving” members of the community.

“We’re looking for people to contact us and let us know about an essential worker, or someone special they know of that has made a real difference to the community over the past year,” Ideson said. “I think this has been a pretty crappy time for most people, there have been a lot of challenges, a lot of stress, so we’re hoping this will help people to feel good, and feel appreciated.”

Nominations for the 100 Bear Pledge will be open through to the end of 2021, with Barberi and Ideson hoping to hand out two bears per week for the remainder of the year. Suggestions can be sent directly to, or by calling 705-455-2637 ext. 105.

Reflecting on their recent purchase of Haliburton Solar + Wind, Barberi says it feels like a natural progression having moved to the Highlands in 2016 to help run the firm.

“I’ve known Brian [Nash, the former owner of Haliburton Solar + Wind] since 1998. I worked closely with him in one of his other businesses, and we always got along really well. We were living in Barrie at the time when Brian asked if I wanted to come to Haliburton,” Barberi said. “At first I wasn’t sure, but committed to coming up and seeing what the area was like. I rented a place, started working, and pretty quickly decided this would be a really good thing.”

Ideson, a master electrician, soon followed. He spent a few years working alongside local contractors, but joined Haliburton Solar + Wind full-time in August.

That move followed on the footsteps of a conversation the pair had with Nash, who was looking for someone to take over the day-to-day running of the business. He will be staying on with the firm as a business advisor and alternative energy expert.

Haliburton Solar + Wind specializes in off-grid complete home power, with a focus on smart home device integration. While the business previously contracted out all of its electrical work, with Ideson joining the team all services, such as installing alternative energy systems, wiring a home or cottage, adding an electric vehicle charger, or installing inverter battery back-up systems in the event a home loses power, can all be handled in-house.

While the company currently serves both off-grid and grid connected clients, Ideson expects that to shift in the coming years. He says there has been a significant increase in the number of people looking to transition to off-grid living. Since launching in 2013, Haliburton Solar + Wind has completed 462 off-grid projects, with over half of those taking place since 2018.

“With the rising cost of hydro, people are trying to figure out how they can plan their future and have a consistent, expected expense for hydro. If they go off-grid, they’ve made their purchase up front and then there isn’t a lot of ongoing costs,” Barberi said.

Ideson added, “For a lot of people too, it’s about reliability. Our electrical grid is deteriorating and becoming more and more expensive to maintain. Eventually, it would be good for us to streamline ourselves towards fully off-grid [services]. It’s a very big, growing market. It’s a niche market, and there are very, very few people out there that are knowledgeable about off-grid living.”

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