Project Power improves quality of life for Stevens and others in need
Crews of volunteers were scurrying around while performing a variety of tasks at Carolyn Stevens’ house in Langley on Wednesday morning.
But the work on the major renovation effort stopped briefly so they and Stevens could pose together for photographs.
In addition, there was something the 82-year-old retiree wanted to tell everybody while they were all standing still in the same place.
“When I found out what was going on, my heart was overjoyed,” said an emotional Stevens. “I’ve been a giver all of my life, and it has just blessed me to know that someone else thinks the same way that I do.
“I love each and every one of you, but I hate it that you have to work so hard,” she continued. “Every night I lay down, I say, ‘Lord, thank you for the team of people that is coming in to work on my home.’ I know you didn’t have to do it, but you did.”
Stevens is among the beneficiaries of Aiken Electric Cooperative’s Project Power initiative, which is designed to improve the quality of life of those in need in the company’s service area.
From Monday through Friday of this week, employees of the Aiken-based power business and numerous community partners are refurbishing and repairing four homes, building a Blessing Box and making improvements to the facilities of two nonprofits in Aiken, Edgefield and Lexington counties.
The United Way of Aiken County and Security Federal Bank are pitching in, and so are Aiken Furniture Co. and Aiken Pest Control.
Others providing assistance include the Chandler Law Firm, Freeman Septic Tank and churches.
They are donating money, labor, materials, furnishings and bathroom fixtures.
This is the third year for Project Power, and the overhaul of Stevens’ house on Cathy Drive is “the most challenging project that we’ve done to date,” said Keyatta Priester, Aiken Electric Cooperative’s manager for community development.
One of the biggest jobs involves tearing down and rebuilding a structure on the side of the house where the bathroom was located.
When it’s done, everything inside and out will be new.
Volunteers also are cleaning and painting the home’s interior, and Stevens’ residence will be getting new furniture, a new septic tank, a new water heater and new electrical wiring.
“The house is old and it had just gotten to the point that so many things needed doing,” said Stevens, who used to work for BellSouth and AT&T. “I couldn’t keep up with it, and I just decided to let it go.”
Living with her are two young relatives who needed somewhere to stay.
Micah Streetman, 15, attends Midland Valley High School. His brother, 21-year-old Timothy Streetman, is a former Midland Valley student who is battling cancer.
The Inn at Houndslake is providing accommodations for the family while Stevens’ house is being revamped.
“This is more than a good thing, it’s a great thing,” said Timothy, who accompanied Stevens on her visit to her home Wednesday. “There are good people out there that are willing to help when you need it.”
Bill Rodgers, a power line construction crew chief, is the Aiken Electric Cooperative project manager at Stevens’ house.
“It’s an uplifting feeling when you truly help someone and you know that they can’t repay you with anything other than kindness,” Rodgers said. “It’s the best feeling in the world. We like giving back to the community.”