Employees around the nation observe the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday with a day off from work. But employees of the Georgia Power Company use the holiday to honor Dr. King's legacy by following his example of dedication and service to others.
"We call it 'a day off, but a day on,'" said Faye Roberson, who is an employee in the East Region around Thomson. "It's the Citizens of Georgia Power group, and we do volunteer work every year on this day."
Georgia Power employees across the state volunteered with civic groups to beautify neighborhoods and support community programs. In Augusta, the employees completed landscape work on the Fisher House at Fort Gordon, which is utilized by the families of soldiers receiving treatment at Eisenhower Army Medical Center.
"We usually go to Augusta to work, but this year we decided we'd rather help someone locally," Mrs. Roberson said.
The local group spent the morning helping Manna move from Greenway Street to their new facility at 421 East Hall Street in Thomson.
"They are just wonderful," Manna Executive Director Linda Gheesling said of the Georgia Power crew. "I don't know what we'd do without them. This has been a major undertaking, and without them, it would have been impossible."
And Georgia Power wasn't the only group helping. Volunteers from First Baptist Church of Thomson, Thomson First United Methodist Church, Raysville Baptist Church, Young Memorial UMC, McCorkle's Nursery and SCORE Technology joined the Manna regular volunteers in moving the ministry.
"It makes us all appreciate the volunteers who work every day," Mrs. Roberson said. "Ours is just one project on one day, but theirs is ongoing."
A faith-based organization supported by local churches, Manna provides clothing, food and assistance with utility payments to needy in the area.
Their building on Greenway Street was dilapidated, according to Assistant Director Tommy Montgomery. Not only was it too small for their needs, but it had mildew and rain flooded the building from time to time. So, it was a blessing in disguise when they received word that their building would be torn down to make way for the future construction of the new city/county government center.
Manna board members requested and received a low interest loan of $100,000 from the City of Thomson to be used for the purchase of the new building, which is located in the old Anthony's Auto Garage on East Hill Street.
The three Manna staff members - Mr. Montgomery, Ms. Gheesling and Libby Ansley - and volunteers from the churches worked to renovate the old garage building.
Mr. Montgomery said they put up walls of sheetrock, painted, got new flooring, a new heating and cooling system, replaced all the wiring and plumbing, cleaned up and hauled off the oil and old car parts, and removed the mirrors from the walls where the building was a fitness center before it was a garage. The new building is 4,500 square feet - twice the size of the old one, according to Mr. Montgomery.
"We were so upset when they told us we had to move," volunteer Mary Wade said. "But now, we got this beautiful facility. Now we're happy."