By Dave Ongie
The echoing of hammers and the hiss of a circular saw pierced the stillness of a beautiful October morning as volunteers from the Tennessee Valley Authority and BrightRidge joined forces to work on a Habitat for Humanity home in Johnson City last Friday.
As BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes compared notes with Charles – who will move into the house upon its completion – about the trials and travails of Tennessee’s football team, volunteers from the TVA and BrightRidge started on a storage shed that will sit in the backyard of the new home. Dykes said going into the community and volunteering is a great way to connect with customers and learn how to better serve them.
And when it comes time to round up some volunteers at BrightRidge – which was previously known as the Johnson City Power Board before a recent rebranding – Dykes said he never has to ask his employees twice.
“We’ve got some employees that are just tremendous for volunteering,” he said. “We said we need some volunteers to go over there and help and they were immediately ready to go. These guys have a bigger heart than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Volunteering in the community is also a high priority for TVA, according to Chris Quillen, a customer service manager with the organization.
“Public power is about service to the community,” he said. “Events like today are just another example of where TVA partners with our local power companies. This is just a visible way we go out and serve our consumers.”
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Habitat for Humanity. Trish Patterson, the community outreach director for Holston Habitat for Humanity, said it takes approximately 3,500 volunteer hours to complete each home.
“We are driven by volunteer labor,” she said. “To have these types of partners come out and give a day of service means that we get our house built for our homebuyers right on schedule. So we try to engage as many partners as we can for volunteers and support in the community.”
Charles and Michelle were on hand Friday morning to watch their future home come together. They currently live in a third-floor apartment, but Charles has suffered through some medical issues that make it difficult for him to get up the stairs. So they went to the Holston Habitat and qualified to purchase the home that is currently being completed.
“For families like Charles and Michelle, or for families with children that have never had a backyard to play in – it makes all the difference in the world,” Patterson said.