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Changing Lives: Power Line Worker Program makes a difference

Julie Thompson Manning was concerned about her youngest son, Charlie. Coming out of high school in Midlothian, Va., he was still looking for the right path to follow. His one passion was climbing, whether it was on an indoor rock wall or with friends in the West Virginia mountains.

The answer came in the mailbox.

A 2018 feature story on the Gaff-n-Go Lineworkers’ Rodeo in Cooperative Living caught the eye of Manning, whose family had recently moved to Southside Electric Cooperative territory in Powhatan.

“This would be perfect for Charlie. He could climb for a living. Yes, he would have to be interested in this!” Manning recalls thinking.

Manning invited her son to lunch — “food is a great motivator,” she notes. She showed him a video about the Power Line Working Training School at Southside Virginia Community College, a program created with the help of electric cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

Two weeks later, he asked for contact information and enrolled in the 11-week course that provides a foundation for a career in the electric lineworker industry. He excelled at the school and was employed even before graduation day.

“Can you imagine the joy I felt?” his mother asks, saying her son has a career he loves. “This all came from a move to the country, from a magazine that happened to be in my mailbox, to a picture of a man on a pole, to a shared lunch, to a video that changed a life forever.”

Today, Charlie, 21, works for the city of Estes Park, Colo., where he can climb the Rockies and utility poles to his heart’s content. His mom gives a big shoutout to SVCC for helping a boy become a man.

“He tells me often how much the people of Estes Park admire the lineworkers and all they do to keep the electricity flowing in their mountain city,” Manning says.

Want to motivate your son or daughter similarly? Check out southside.edu/.
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MAKING A SPLASH. Christina Edwards of Woodford, a Rappahannock Electric Cooperative member, sent us this photo. “COVID-19 hasn't kept my four-year-old grandson, Connor James, from enjoying summer!“ she wrote.

How are you enjoying your summer? Got any photos you’d like to share with us? Send them to [email protected]
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STAR POOCH. Ruckus had a great Fourth of July! Did you? Thanks for sharing this photo, Amanda McLellan!

If you’d like to share your favorite July Fourth photos with us for consideration in next year’s Say Cheese column, you can share them in the comments below or by emailing them to [email protected]
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