In a year filled with uncertainty and the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) has stayed true to its mission of serving people and communities in need across the state.
During the first six months of 2021, APSO volunteers logged more than 5,000 hours of their own time, helping Alabamians from Mobile to Montgomery to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa to Anniston and from the Wiregrass to the Black Belt. Much of the work was accomplished remotely to protect the health of volunteers and those they served, although APSO chapters have since had successful on-the-ground field projects.
“Our volunteers are amazing,” said Jacki Lowry, a community development specialist in the company’s Eastern Division and this year’s APSO state president. “They are creative. They are going to find a way to help people, whatever the roadblocks and complications.”
For example, APSO volunteers were particularly busy in May, during the Southern Company Month of Service. From supplying lunches to front-line health care workers and teachers, to collecting plush toys and writing loving notes for seniors in hospice care, volunteers touched hundreds of children and adults.
Addressing hunger and literacy has been a special focus this year – APSO’s 30th anniversary. From collecting canned goods for area food banks, to donating books and conducting remote book readings for schoolchildren, to filling backpacks with healthy snacks for students who don’t have access to school lunches this summer, volunteers pooled their time and resources to help others.
“There truly is power in volunteerism,” said Tequila Smith, Alabama Power vice president of Charitable Giving, “and our APSO volunteers have shared the power of unselfish giving with the people of Alabama for three decades – and counting.”
Smith noted that over APSO’s history, the organization’s nine chapters across the state have assisted more than 200 nonprofits and contributed more than 1 million volunteer hours to worthy causes. “It is a legacy of caring for the people of our state,” she said.
In addition to ongoing support for nonprofit organizations, APSO volunteers are always ready to help in a crisis. APSO chapters mobilized earlier this year to help tornado victims in Jefferson County. This summer, APSO volunteers from the Mobile area moved quickly to help tornado victims in East Brewton following Tropical Storm Claudette. Last fall, APSO volunteers were there to help those affected along the Gulf Coast by Hurricanes Zeta and Sally.
Earlier this year, volunteers with the Mobile Chapter of APSO used the season of Lent to inspire a unique project: “56 days of blessing.” From Feb. 17 to April 13, employees gave up simple indulgences, from coffeehouse lattes to pedicures to restaurant meals, and used the money they saved to help others. The more than $2,000 they collected supported a variety of projects, from stocking Easter baskets for underprivileged children, to providing lunches for homeless women. In June, volunteers installed rain barrels at homes in Prichard – an ongoing project over several years to reduce flooding and conserve water. Volunteers also helped paint homes recently in the historic Africatown neighborhood.
In the Wiregrass, members of the Southeast Chapter of APSO this spring collected stuffed animals that were donated to the Eufaula Police Department, Barbour County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama Department of Human Resources office in Valley. The toys are being used to comfort young children who find themselves in stressful situations.
As summer presses on and another school year approaches, APSO chapters are preparing more backpacks with school supplies for children in need. And before the holiday season arrives, APSO members will be collecting toys and other items to make it a better Christmas for the less fortunate.
“In every season, our volunteers are working to make a difference,” Lowry said.