Duke Energy Employees Continue their Relationships after Retirement
Meeting, volunteering, supporting each other continues after employment ends
By Judie Holcomb-Pack
Most people look forward to that last day on the job where they pack up their desk, hand in their keys, accept the symbolic gift for their years of service, and then walk off into the sunset, not really expecting to see their coworkers again.
But not Duke Energy retirees! Sponsored and financially supported by Duke Energy as a way to build continuing camaraderie among their employees after retiring and leaving the company, the Duke Retirees Service Club meets quarterly for lunch and socializing at Ardmore United Methodist Church. Duke Energy sponsors 23 chapters of its retirees clubs across North and South Carolina. The chapter that represents Winston-Salem and the Foothills area has about 25-30 employees and spouses who regularly attend meetings.
You can tell from the laughter, gentle ribbing, and sharing of personal stories, that this group enjoys being together. At a recent luncheon, Bobby Anders chaired the meeting in the absence of president Roy Southern and welcomed updates from among the members, or as he called it, “Joys and Sorrows report” – who had recent surgery, who just had a new grandchild, who was on vacation, those who were ill and how they were improving, and any needs that the members should be aware of. It was obvious that not only did everyone enjoy being a part of the group, they truly cared for each other.
Jimmy Flythe, the director of government and community relations for the West Region of Duke Energy, gave an update on the closing of coal ash ponds, government rulings that were being considered, the projected time frame for these projects, and then answered questions from members.
During lunch, members talked around the table, showed pictures from their iPhones, and discussed upcoming projects. Among the oldest members is
Jim Wooten who retired 35 years ago and is now a young 83.
This is not just a social group, it’s an active group of volunteers. They have participated in such things as cleaning streams for Clean Sweep, planting trees for Community Roots Day, walking in the ALS Walk, Adopt a Highway, and other charities that Duke Energy supports. On the day I visited, they were collecting food donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank. The secretary, Gail Anders, keeps track of all volunteer hours, including individual volunteer activities of members, and reports totals to Duke Energy. Gail started attending meetings in 2003 before she retired as a work management specialist for governmental affairs and community relations and an assistant to Jimmy Flythe for 24 years. She fell in love with the group so naturally, upon her retirement, she joined right in!
Thanks to Bobby Bryan’s involvement as a tutor at Konnoak Elementary, he has gotten his church and the Duke retirees involved in a lunch for the teachers and staff of Konnoak and Philo schools held the Thursday before school starts. It includes a school supplies drive so that teachers can receive the many items they need for their classrooms that are not provided by the schools.
At the end of the meeting, the annual Volunteer of the Year award was given to Gail Anders for her unceasing support of the group, planning the meetings and lunch menus, keeping the volunteer hours and serving as secretary, not to mention all the volunteer activities she does during the year, such as visiting nursing homes to do the residents’ hair, sorting and packing food at Second Harvest Food Bank, mentoring a third-grader, and more.
As many retirees often say, they become busier AFTER they retire than when they were working! This is certainly the case for this group of active seniors. We are fortunate to have them so generously volunteering to serve our community in so many ways.