11:41 AM

Jackson EMC Linemen Partner with A Brush With Kindness

Jackson EMC’s Gwinnett office partnered with Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush With Kindness program to help senior citizens with external maintenance issues on their homes. A Brush With Kindness is a Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity program that provides services to homeowners to help keep their home safe, dry, accessible and code compliant so homeowners can continue to live safely in their home for many years. 

Craig Roberts, Jackson EMC’s director of engineering and operations in Gwinnett, Jen Welch, Gwinnett Habitat’s Director of Programs and her program coordinators, began a conversation early in 2020 to determine how to work together.  

“We have the manpower, tools and equipment, and A Brush With Kindness knew the people who needed help,” said Roberts. “We have specialized tools so it doesn’t take as long for us as it might for other volunteers. Sometimes, it’s more beneficial for us to give our time and resources instead of money, and we can see the end result.” 

Since one of the seven cooperative principles is “Concern for Community,” Jackson EMC line crews and employees participate in local projects as workloads allow, and Gwinnett Habitat's A Brush With Kindness program uses volunteer labor and donated materials to keep costs low for its projects.  

“We learn about many needs through churches, senior services, the code enforcement department or homeowner associations,” said Welch. “Most of the homeowners we serve are seniors, veterans or people with disabilities.” 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the partnership was delayed until the fall. Welch learned of a senior citizen in Lawrenceville whose home had extensive water damage inside the chimney siding, which created holes that caused leaking inside the house as well as squirrels in the attic. 

“It’s difficult for many seniors to keep up the maintenance on their homes,” said Oscar Nunez,  program coordinator. “So, Habitat’s A Brush With Kindness program helps homeowners keep their homes.” 

Joey Thompson, a Jackson EMC line foreman and 35-year employee, and his six-man line crew arrived at the home with their personal tools, including a miter saw, nail gun and other carpenter’s tools. First, the crew used their bucket trucks to reach gutters and remove wet leaves and debris. Water overflow had caused rotting in the chimney over many years. Next, they shifted the bucket trucks and work on the chimney could begin.  

While two linemen removed the siding, others drove to a home improvement store to purchase new plywood and siding for the chimney. 

“Everybody on our crew was excited to work on this project,” said Thompson, a lifelong Gwinnett resident, who cut the new siding to fit the 32-foot chimney. 

Meanwhile, Jackson EMC linemen Tyler Thurmond and Jake Miller trimmed limbs that were hanging over the house so leaves wouldn’t clog the gutters again. The linemen purchased all new materials, including wood to help stabilize the chimney. Jackson EMC linemen installed the new wood, trim and chimney siding, which was then ready for fresh paint.  

“I feel so blessed and will be forever grateful for Jackson EMC and Habitat for Humanity for all the repairs on my home,” said homeowner June Thomas, who lost her retirement income in the 2008 financial crash. “They did an excellent job, and I have a safe home I can be proud of.”  

“We couldn’t do this without the bucket trucks and linemen from Jackson EMC,” said Welch. “Our partnership with Jackson EMC enables us to work together to improve the lives of our seniors.” 

Roberts and Welch are already working on their next joint project.