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Volunteers turn on muscle power
Citizens of Georgia Power pitch in at Treutlen House
cleanup 2
Angela Noles prunes a tree during Georgia Powers MLK Day of Service at the Treutlen House at New Ebenezer. Noles, a Georgia Power employee, serves on the Treutlen House board of directors. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

While many high school students were sleeping late on the Martin Luther King holiday, Ashley Clayton was doing yard work with her parents Al and Michele.

Their efforts helped support a group of boys who haven’t had the kind of close-knit family life the Claytons enjoy.

The Claytons joined others in tidying up the grounds of the Treutlen House at New Ebenezer on Monday, as part of Georgia Power’s annual MLK Day of Service. Al is an instrument and controls technician with Georgia Power.

“We’re more fortunate than some other people are, so I think you need to help people and make them feel special as much as you can,” said Ashley, a ninth-grader at the Habersham School.

Each year, the Citizens of Georgia Power, a philanthropic arm of the electric utility, participate in community service projects across the state in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Locally, the Effingham and Savannah Generation chapters teamed up to lend a hand at Treutlen House, a group home for boys in the foster-care system.

“This is a great place to do it, it really is. The boys need some help out here,” said Mike Gresham, president of the Effingham chapter of Citizens of Georgia Power.

This year’s local project was suggested by Georgia Power employee Angela Noles, who serves on Treutlen House’s board of directors. Noles and fellow employees, their families and even a Georgia Power retiree pitched in to do yard work, pressure washing, painting and other maintenance.

“I have pride in the company that they encourage us to do this,” said Richelle Southwick, president of the Savannah generation chapter. “You want to give back to the community because we are very blessed, and this is such a great thing to do. And really it’s not that much of your time.”

The project was a natural fit, since Treutlen House is less than two miles down the road from Georgia Power’s Plant McIntosh in Rincon. However, their ties to each other extend beyond their geographic proximity.

The Citizens of Georgia Power make financial contributions throughout the year to Treutlen House, Gresham said, and its members also spend time visiting with the boys who live at the non-profit home.

“Georgia Power not only supports us through monetary donations but through service projects like this one,” said Treutlen House director Kristen Wert. “The Treutlen House is blessed to be part of a wonderful community that supports our efforts and dedication to the boys.”

Some of the boys living at Treutlen House chipped in to help with Monday’s sprucing-up. The Citizens of Georgia Power’s next goal for Treutlen House is to raise money to install lights at its outdoor basketball court.

“I love to give back to the community that gives so much to us,” Gresham said. “At Georgia Power, we’re going to be a part of the community. I really enjoy getting out and working with my neighbors here in Effingham County.”

Along with helping others and spending time with her family, Ashley Clayton was earning high school graduation credit while she worked in Treutlen’s front yard. One of the Habersham School’s graduation requirements is for each student to complete at least 125 hours of volunteer service between their freshman and senior years.

“Even if I didn’t have to do community service, I would do it,” she said. “I want to be a teacher for kids with Down syndrome, because helping other people is just something I enjoy doing.”

Chances are, Clayton will return to Treutlen House to log some of her community service. She has a lofty goal to exceed the 125 hours her school requires.

“My goal, to graduate with honors, is to do 90 this year, 60 next year and 30 the next,” Clayton said.