Thursday, October 21, 2021

Volunteer Spotlight: Tabrena Wilson

 "I Love Helping Others" - Tabrena Wilson

It takes dedication, and the love of helping others, to offer your time and energy to volunteer in the community. Tabrena Wilson knows this well, and she’s always ready to jump in to volunteer to help, or be key person for area fundraisers. That’s love and dedication!

Tabrena came to MLGW as a part-time Credit Counselor in 1999 at our Lamar office and became permanent May 30, 2000 as the Clerk at the Lamar office. She was promoted to Human Resources six months later as an HR Clerk II, then promoted to HR Secretary as years passed. She has been with MLGW for 21 years. And Tabrena was just honored in our first annual VIP Volunteer Awards with the MLGW VIP Volunteer Spirit Service Award, well deserved.

“I started volunteering and assisting Regina Allen and Mary White (both retired) with our company picnics, entering payroll deductions and sending the information to Payroll,” recalls Tabrena. “I worked with the HR reps at different Job Fairs, and Mary, Val Jordan (retired) and I volunteered one Saturday off Florida Avenue with Habitat for Humanity, helping paint, lay sod, plant flowers and serve lunch to other volunteers.” 

“I have been the Secretary for Gas Construction and Maintenance since 2016,” she says. “I have volunteered as a committee member for MLGW company picnics for over 15 years until it ended in 2018. There were a few other volunteer events I was a part of.” 

Mary White, our retired Employee Activity coordinator, got Tabrena involved in a lot of volunteer activities. She started assisting Mary at the company store, then worked as a volunteer at some of the vendor sales downtown and at Netters. “Volunteering at the company picnic led to me becoming a committee member,” Tabrena recalls. “Then I was recruited to help get employees to volunteer at different stations, place them, go shopping with Mary to pick up food items and gifts for Bingo, and do setup/cleanup at the picnic, then help with related payroll deductions. Then Mary said, ‘Can you help round up volunteers and be volunteer coordinator?’ Before I knew it, I was volunteer coordinator and Mary’s backup at the registration table, a big job.

“I’d coordinate and assign volunteers to things like the petting zoo, the photo booth, face painting, bingo – and I’d space them out in two-hour shifts so they didn’t have to work the whole time and could have some fun,” Tabrena reminisces. “Then we added karaoke, and the band wanted to play. Paulette (Gordon), LaQuita (Wade) and I really enjoyed working on the company picnic. It was a big outing for most people, playing all day, eating for free, and employees, retirees and families all came out to enjoy it. It was big. I hope they bring them back. I really miss it, especially ones at Libertyland.”

“No one will ever fill Mary White’s shoes!” Tabrena confirms. “I really miss Mary. She’s a good person, always positive. She always said, ‘Put on your duck feathers!’ which meant to let the water run off your back like a duck and don’t let anything bother you.”

Tabrena has also volunteered for MIFA’s Angel Tree, the Plus-1 Telethon, SIP Around the World, the Vesta Home Show, Southern Women’s Show, Delta Fair, JA Bowl-A-Thon, MLGW Bowling League Banquet and Holiday Events, HER Faith Ministries Bowl-A-Thon (for battered women and children), Jr. Fishing Rodeo, Gas Safety Awareness Day at Lowes, assisting the Employee Activities Coordinator with collecting, entering and reporting funds for American Cancer Society, AHA Heart Walk, Diabetes Walk, Kidney Foundation, MLGW Power of Warmth and Play it Cool for the elderly and other qualified customers to get heaters and air conditioners. She also called and assisted customers requesting Food Box deliveries from the Neighborhood Christian Center during the pandemic and volunteered for our multiple Mobile Food Pantries at the MLGW University. That’s a huge amount of volunteering!

As for the HER Faith Ministries Bowl-A-Thon, Tabrena says, “Yes, I bowled. Mary and Edward Castro (Employee Services and Talent Acquisition) had bowled for HER before and invited me to join their team. It’s fun! I was on Edward’s team the next year, but it wasn’t held this year or last.

“I am also the key person for all of Brunswick Service Center events,” Tabrena says. “That includes the United Way Campaign, Vitalant Blood drives, Operation Feed, CIGNA Wellness, Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, Customer Service Week... You name it, I probably had a part in it, if I could.”


“As a member of the Council of Administrative Professionals (COAP), I assist everyone who calls me for help,” Tabrena says. “People always say, ‘So-and-so gave me your name and said to ask you.’ So I tell them, I don’t know everything, but I will try or send them to someone who can help. Our last COAP Conference was in 2018. We couldn’t meet like we did in the past, but we did have a drive-by ‘Admin Appreciation Day’ this April. Paulette Gordon, Nedra Bailey, Donna Robinson, Dorothy Jones and I along with new employees Jasmine Boone and Capricious Westbrook handed out gift cards and bags to our secretaries and clerks as they drove by the Training Center.

Tabrena recently worked the Utility One Stop in mid-August, passing out energy-saving kits and light bulbs. “It was a drive-thru,” she says. “Mary White and Brian Nichols (Gas Fitters) were there helping out. There are so many people needing help!”

Outside of MLGW, Tabrena, a member of Bellevue Baptist, has volunteered for the Mid-South Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic. “I am so thankful to have a job with dental insurance,” she enthuses. “Because some people do not have any insurance for themselves, nor their children. My heart goes out to them... Just listening to them thank everyone for helping them and doing this for them. Some have never been to the dentist, or it’s been a long time because they have no job or just can’t afford it. Bellevue had places for kids to play while their parents were getting dental work. It was all so organized!”

“When I volunteered for the Dental Clinic,” Tabrena remembers, “They did a lot of things from cleanings, extractions, etc. for people of all ages, children to elderly, and did not get paid. Those people donated their time and supplies and some drove for miles to assist a whole lot of people in need for two days. I saw how grateful those in need were for the help they were given, even the volunteers that were just showing them where to go. I helped pass out free food to them and their children. It made me feel very good to know they were getting help and didn’t have to worry about how they were going to pay for it. I hate that the pandemic came, because that stopped them from coming.” 

She has also helped with the Children’s Daycare, Bellevue Impact Ministries, Arise to Read, Senior Expo and Bellevue Frayser Food Pantry, Bellevue backpack and Summer book giveaway. She assisted Ginia Williams (owner) of Rising Stars Learning Academy with their “We Care Memphis Back to School” backpack giveaway and also helped with the Greater St. Paul Baptist Church Banquet and fundraising bowling events with Mary White (again!).

“My favorite was volunteering for the MLGW company picnic, HER Faith Ministries Bowl-A Thon and entering information for the Neighborhood Christian Center,” Tabrena recalls.

“I enjoy volunteering when I can,” Tabrena adds. “It makes me feel good to know that I’m doing something to help others, especially when they are in need.”

“Yes, you should try volunteering,” she says. “You will enjoy it if you like seeing people happy. Think of it as if you were the person needing assistance and someone else had to volunteer their time. If there were no volunteers, people might not get the help they need. The more people you have volunteer, the less time each person has to work.”

“I love helping others, especially those in need and those who appreciate it,” Tabrena says. “I put myself in others’ shoes and think ‘it could be me or my family,’ and I would want someone to help us, even though it doesn’t always work out that way. But God will send someone,” she confirms.

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