Monday, January 3, 2011

Employees who Rock: Robert Bynum and Ronnie Parker

Several of our lineman have decided to be positive role models through "The Organization," which started as a men's social club in 1992.

Ronnie Parker and Robert Bynum, who are both active members of The Organization and crew leaders at the Hickory Hill work center, sat down to chat with me before the holidays.

Ronnie is the current president and has been with MLGW for 25 years. He’s retiring on January 7th and says he started out in the Store Room at the South Center for $5.65 and hour. “I was glad to get it,” he says.

Robert has been with the company 21 years and says Ronnie took him under his wing when he got here. “We climbed poles together as apprentices,” he says.

In addition to Robert and Ronnie, The Organization includes three other MLGW employees; Currie Robinson (General Foreman, NSC), Howard Clay (Retired Customer Service), and Antonio Hearn (Lineman at Hickory Hill). The group’s sixth member is a friend of Howard’s, named Tommy Norwood.

“We revamped, and got our heads together,” explains Ronnie. “We were older and more focused on youth. We’ve got a lot of skills, and we wanted to be mentors.”

“We’ve been blessed to do what we want for a living and have a career. We wanted to give back,” says Robert.

The group’s motto is “Unified and organized men making a difference.”

Over the years they’ve mentored kids through Big Brothers Big Sisters, but they are currently focusing their efforts on the kids who are living in the Salvation Army’s Purdue Center for homeless women and children.

The Purdue Center offers temporary shelter for 3-4 months. The Organization plans trips for the children living in the shelter about twice a month. They take small groups of kids, usually boys aged 9-13, to Redbirds games, Grizzlies games, the movies, the zoo, bowling, fishing, etc. In May, they even put on a carnival.

Barbara Tillery and Joyce Waters, who work at the Salvation Army, help identify children who are having problems and who could use some mentoring. Robert and Ronnie say that they want the kids to have some fun, but they also talk to them about staying in school and helping their mothers. “We tell them that they are bigger than [their current situation], and that it doesn’t define them,” says Ronnie.

“We just really want to encourage them,” adds Robert.

“It’s really great to see the kids’ eyes light up,” says Ronnie. “We’ve seen kids catch their first fish and they get so excited-it’s great.”

Robert and Ronnie also get a lot out of their involvement with The Organization. “Seeing the kids-you can tell when you’ve touched them. It opens me up,” says Robert.

Ronnie adds, “Some kids just need a little love and a little guidance to keep them going, to do the right thing, and to get on the right track.”

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