Nuclear workers prefer to start early every day, so it was no surprise to find more than three dozen volunteers from Duke Energy’s Robinson Nuclear Plant lined up and ready to go at the first ray of light on Saturday, April 29. These team members had all volunteered their Saturday to support the plant’s Christmas in April program.
“What other time would we start?” laughed Waverly Futrell, an engineer at the plant and team captain for this project. “Our team was ready to get after it. Everyone came with a great attitude of wanting to give back.”
Christmas in April is a volunteer organization that, in partnership with the community, rehabilitates the houses of low-income homeowners, particularly the elderly and people with disabilities, so that they may continue to live in warmth, safety and independence. The Hartsville chapter of the Christmas in April program has been operating for 29 years. The program pairs volunteers from local churches, organizations, businesses and other charities with low-income homes that need repairs.
The program starts by inviting people to submit their home for consideration. Applications are screened by a Christmas in April board member and carpenter, who work to determine if the home is a good fit for the program. Materials and other supplies are purchased through donations received and donated by local businesses for use by volunteers in the projects.
The program culminates on Christmas in April Work Day, the last Saturday in April, when all of the volunteer teams go to work on their selected projects.
“It’s a wonderful program that does more than improve people’s homes; it improves their lives,” Hartsville Christmas in April director Joann DeLong said.
The Robinson team took on three house projects this year, each with a variety of needs. Volunteers were able to replace exterior doors that had deteriorated and were not closing properly, remove and replace rotten flooring, replace peeling linoleum, replace a sagging water-damaged ceiling, and replace and paint outdoor trim work.
“Safe, warm, dry are our criteria for selecting potential projects,” DeLong said. “The work our volunteers do is crucial to the people they are helping. If it wasn’t for their support, these are issues the homeowners would just have to live with or try to fix themselves – which could be dangerous.”
“What’s most rewarding for me is when a team captain relays back to me the response from the homeowner that they’re told their home was chosen for repairs, or when I’m able to tell a homeowner that we’re replacing their roof; more times than not, there are tears and a sigh of relief,” DeLong said.
The Robinson team worked from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., completing all of their projects before calling it a day.
“I can’t begin to thank the Duke employees enough for once again making this year’s Work Day another successful event. Thank you all so much,” DeLong said.
“It was a long day, but it was a fun day,” Futrell said. “I think our team got a lot out of doing this work. It really puts things in perspective for you.”