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Employees, retirees make a difference through 15 community projects

by on November 20, 2012
SWEPCO employees at the Scott County Boys and Girls Club in Waldron, Ark., are (left to right, white t-shirts): Mark Stump, Chuck Easterling, Louise Buchanan, Jeff Milford, Shelly Witt and Tonda Bates, along with a representative of the organization and two of the children it serves.

(Story by Barry Schumann)

AEP active and retired employees participated in 15 community projects in eight states on Oct. 27 as part of the national Make A Difference Day program. Employees of five AEP operating companies helped plan and coordinate local projects which received $300 mini-grants from AEP.

Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) employees led the way with this year’s Make a Difference Day projects, tackling a total of nine projects in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Appalachian Power employees led three projects in two states, and employees of AEP Ohio, Indiana Michigan Power and Public Service Company of Oklahoma participated in one local project each.

Employees from SWEPCO’s Fayetteville and Rogers service centers painted bathrooms and a concessions area at the Scott County Boys and Girls Club in Waldron, Ark.

“We know the Boys and Girls Club is really important to kids and their families in Waldron and Scott County,” said Louise Buchanan, customer services and marketing supervisor in Fayetteville. “It was very rewarding for our SWEPCO team to spend time painting and improving the Boys and Girls Club as a way to give back to one of the many Arkansas communities we serve.”

It’s the spirit of giving back and taking care of the communities the company serves that inspired AEP employees to grab rakes and wheelbarrows, paint brushes and brooms, power tools, saws and more to make a difference.

Other projects included:

Abingdon, Va. – Employees Kim Newman-Rader, Richard Harless, Edwin Shelton, Ricky Chafin, Daryl Vaught and Kevin Sigmon teamed with students and staff at E.B. Stanley Middle School to beautify the grounds and install a commemorative planting in memory of student Brandon Lord. Joining the effort were Lord’s grandfather, brothers and father, who were deeply touched by the memorial.

Cutler, Ohio – Employees including Alexander Winters, Bob Mayle, Stacy Triplet, John Hill, and Roger Cross joined with Cutler Community Center staff and volunteers to install a 15-position physical fitness station and double teeter-totter and to refurbish an eight-person swing set by replacing worn bolts at the former elementary school converted into a community resource center.

Damascus, Va. – Employees Daryl Vaught, Garrison Kopp, Scarlett Collie, Jeff Hess and Kim Newman-Rader joined with members of the Damascus Middle School eighth-grade football team, coaches and parents to spread fresh mulch on the playground and in the ga-ga (dodgeball) pit.

Longview, Texas – Employees including Carolyn Bass, Scott Hampton, Michael Skeen, Sue Haynes and Keith Honey helped seal and waterproof wooden portions of the Kid’s View Playground in the W.G. “Bill” Lear Park, Longview’s only regional park.

Longview, Texas – Employees including Carolyn Bass, Scott Hampton, Michael Skeen, Sue Haynes and Keith Honey partnered with the Longview Noon Lions Club to paint and install a fence and platform around new playground equipment at the Women’s Crisis Shelter, a refuge for battered, abused and homeless women and their children.

Natchitoches, La. – Employees Belinda Berry, Rick Cain, Sherri Conde, Randy Peeples, Brandon Sirman, Vera Severin and Caroline Dixon helped DOVES Inc. prepare its facility for an annual state inspection “by cleaning the house from top to bottom, inside and out,” said Berry, customer services and marketing account representative. DOVES houses abused and battered women and children. Funding was used to help buy bunk beds and linens for the center’s clients.

New Haven, W.Va. – Sporn Plant employees Manning Roe, Sandra Hawley, Debra Osborn, Angie Anderson, Greg Powers and Bobby Dolan led an effort in conjunction with the New Haven Fire Department to provide smoke detectors to community residents. Plant employees and United Mine Workers Union Local 5396 donated funds to purchase detectors at cost and employees at Mountaineer Plant donated additional detectors to provide 173 smoke detectors. Timmy Zerkle, AEP RSO employee and New Haven firefighter, noted the National Fire Protection Association estimates 60 percent of all fire-related deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors.

SWEPCO quality and training specialist Marvlous Morris is shown with a youngster enjoying dinner at Common Ground Community in the Cedar Grove area of Shreveport.

Shreveport, La. – Employees Kacee Kirschvink, Pamela Dukes, Kim Dupree, Angela Mandigo, Diane Moore-Nichter, Cindy Phillips, Ja Nel Edwards, Marvlous Morris and Patty Bonner joined with Quota International of Shreveport to serve a chili dinner to those in need at Common Ground Community Inc., an outreach organization serving the Cedar Grove neighborhood. Grant funds were matched by United Healthcare to enable Common Ground to purchase a freezer to meet client needs.

Shreveport, La. – Employees Josie Miller, Robin Alexander, Cynthia Brix, DeCoffette Ward and Debra Jackson joined with members of the ArkLaTex WiNUP Chapter to box up food items for the Northwest Lousiana Food Bank’s Senior Shut-in Program, which serves about 1,000 seniors a month. Grant funds were donated to the food bank, which will parlay the funds into about, 2,400 meals.

Shreveport, La. – Employees Dave Langston, Twila Frank, April Bailey, Ray Fenton, Kawona Abmas, Barney Bates, Jeff Crain, Randy Meyers and Mary Shelton teamed with family members and community volunteers to improve the Right to Play playground for all children, both handicapped and able-bodied. Volunteers spread 11 tons of shredded rubber, plants trees, bushes and flowers, placed sod, pruned trees, and removed trash. They also replaced and repaired mallets used to play chimes in playground garden area. Langston said the playground is one of the most popular in Shreveport, enabling children of all abilities to play together.

Stevensville, Mich. – Cook Nuclear Plant employees including Robert Kalinowksi, Pat Freehling, Don Turney, Bill Schalk and Dave Lefor partnered with the Hickory Creek Watershed Partnership to educate local property owners on simple actions they can take to improve the water quality of Hickory Creek.

Texarkana, Texas – Employees Sophia Teel, Jennifer Evans, Kim King, Paul Knowles, Jennifer Meyer and Zac Pianalto assembled shelving to store perishable foods at the Senior Citizens of Texarkana facility. The organization delivers 807 meals per day in Bowie, Cass and Morris counties, and provides lunches at seven congregate sites in the region. The team also trimmed bushes around the facility, then raked, bagged and hauled off debris.

Tulsa, Okla. – Employees including Katina Nevel, Dirk Johnson, Judy Hicks, Brenda Johnson and April Westemeir represented the ACE Team and PSO employees by providing Thanksgiving dinner baskets to 10 of the neediest families at PSO partner school Central High School.

Wellington, Texas– Employees including Tony Barley, Steve Teichelman, Cory Hightower, Joe Pena, Gary Lemons, Charles Moore, Matthew Nichols and Tommy Hudson painted, repair lights and cleaned a recently acquired building which will house the Wellington Opportunity Center’s after-school and summer programs.

Contributors included Twila Dunlap Frank, Sandra Hawley, David Langston, Peter Main, Scott McCloud, Josie Miller, Kim Newman-Rader and Sophia Teel.

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