Alabama Power Energizers keep retirees connected to communities
Original post by Phil Pierce on Alabama NewsCenter
The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.
What does retirement look like? For some folks it might mean sitting with their feet in the sand on a beach. For others, it might be spending time on that fishing boat they’ve neglected for many years.
For James Glover, it meant going back to middle school. About once a week, the retired Alabama Power lineman visits Anniston City Schools and mentors students. For him, it’s about giving them an idea of what exists outside of what they see every day and reminding them there are possibilities beyond what they may have imagined.
“At first, they’re shy; you know how kids are. So, sometimes, I start out talking to them about cornbread. Every kid knows cornbread. Pretty soon, they’re asking me all kinds of questions about what it’s like to work up in a bucket truck,” Glover says. “Many of them haven’t given it much thought before I talk with them. In me, I hope they get to see an example of where a solid work ethic can get you.”
Glover is an Energizer. And for Energizers, retirement is much more than digging your feet in the sand or wetting a hook on a lake. It’s about giving back.
Energizers is a group of Alabama Power retirees and their spouses who continue serving their communities well after retirement. The Energizers are a legitimate force of nature. With 1,500-plus members in 11 chapters scattered around the state, they volunteered for more than 50,000 hours last year alone. They’ve done everything from hosting fundraisers, to yard cleaning, to mentoring children in local schools like Glover does. They’ve donated money and volunteer at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, the Presbyterian Home in Talladega and the food bank in Heflin. And this is just scratching the surface. Energizers are involved in service projects all over Alabama.
Just as important, this is a close group of people who’ve stayed connected. Each volunteer opportunity is like a retiree reunion. Former work friendships become stronger as these retirees march into their senior years. And new friendships spring up at events that more often feature a shovel in hand than hors d’oeuvres.
As Don Franklin, 42-year Alabama Power veteran, retiree coordinator and overseer of the Energizers program explains it, “You might talk to people in production, operations or financing. It could be your neighbor, but you never knew they worked for the company. People coming together after retirement for the common goal of serving their communities is what matters.”
It’s not all work, mind you. Energizers enjoy socializing. They even have a travel coordinator who arranges tours around the world for them, with destinations like the Canadian Maritimes, South Africa, Tuscany and Iceland. Upcoming are trips to the Canadian Rockies and a Rhine River cruise in Germany. But, at the end of the day, being an Energizer is not about travel; it’s about spreading good deeds.
Joining the group is easy. A $15 annual due is the only requirement, and retirees’ spouses are welcome to get involved. The chapters have six meetings a year, most often featuring a meal and a speaker – much like other civic groups.
Franklin has a healthy respect for the program and an even healthier respect for the retirees who participate. “We think it’s a good thing. Retirees aren’t required to participate in it, but many do. Even though you worked 25, 30, even 40 years, I think many still want to come in and do something for the community itself,” Franklin said.
Glover is a great example. Here’s a lineman who, even before he retired, had begun mentoring Anniston’s schoolchildren. Once he retired, he could have, as they say, “gone fishing.” But once every week or so, you’ll find him in a classroom regaling students with stories about his life’s work up there in the bucket and sharing the value of hard work, getting an education and taking pride in one’s job.
Franklin believes the current Energizers are “probably the greatest generation of retirees. They’re good people. They don’t want any fanfare. They don’t need a pat on the back, but we like to give them one anyway.” Rather, they’re about reconnecting, enjoying their gatherings together and, beyond all else, spreading the good.