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MLK: A day on, not off Georgia Power workers give back to community

From left, Georgia Power volunteers Emmanuel Kumi-Ansu, Rebecca Kumi-Ansu, Kwabena Kumi-Ansu, Aristotle Savage, Pam Hyaduck, Yaw Kumi-Ansu, Diana Chow, Tiffany Smith, Richard Leonhardt and Sonia Asiedu at Secur’us House. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

From left, Georgia Power volunteers Emmanuel Kumi-Ansu, Rebecca Kumi-Ansu, Kwabena Kumi-Ansu, Aristotle Savage, Pam Hyaduck, Yaw Kumi-Ansu, Diana Chow, Tiffany Smith, Richard Leonhardt and Sonia Asiedu at Secur’us House. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Pam Hyaduck paints around an outlet in the tranquility room surrounded by, from left, Rebecca Kumi-Ansu, Yaw Kumi-Ansu, Emmanuel Kumi-Ansu, Sonia Asiedu and Kwabena Kumi-Ansu. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Georgia Power employees and On-Site Computer Training students and their friends and family came together to help out at Rainbow House Inc. during this year’s MLK Jr. Day of Service activities. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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D.J. Robins, 15, is a freshman at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School. He and others volunteering at Rainbow House Inc. braved the frigid early-morning temperatures as participants in a Day of Service activity Monday. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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Felecia Cullins a student at On-Site Computer Training in Forest Park helps sort through donated coats and jackets at Rainbow House Inc., a nonprofit home for children in crisis. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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Covington resident Sharon Moore, center, helped with housekeeping Monday at Rainbow House Inc. in Clayton County. She volunteered in the MLK Jr. Day of Service activity alongside Georgia Power employees like Riverdale resident Katrice Richardson, right. Moore is an administrative assistant at Southern Company and Richardson is an administrative specialist with Georgia Power. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

MORROW — Georgia Power technician Emmanuel Kumi-Ansu could have spent MLK Day with his children at the movies, bowling or enjoying the unseasonably warm temperatures Monday.

Instead, they — and niece Sonia Asiedu — put on some old clothes and picked up a brush to give a fresh coat of paint to the tranquility room at Secur’us House, Clayton County’s shelter for battered women and their children. The Ghana immigrants have been in this country eight months. Daughter Rebecca was in a girls’ boarding school in Ghana.

“I used to follow the Red Cross workers when they went into the village and help them,” she said.

Rebecca, who is a biology student at Georgia State University, and her brothers, Kwabena and Yaw, said they enjoy volunteering. Kwanbena is in eighth grade at Pointe South Middle School and his brother is a senior at Mundy’s Mill High School. Asiedu is a senior at Stockbridge High School.

“I look at everything I have and I think I should share with others,” said Rebecca.

Emmanuel brought the children to volunteer as part of Georgia Power’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Pam Hyaduck coordinated the efforts of Citizens of Georgia Power in raking and bagging leaves outside the shelter. Inside, the family painted the lavender tranquility room a deeper violet.

Chik-fil-A provided breakfast and lunch to volunteers, she said.

“We have a charity golf tournament to raise money to help the shelters,” said Hyaduck. “None of this money comes from customers’ bills. We want to do more, to come back and do more work because they have stair treads that need repair and a light fixture that needs replacing.”

In another part of the county, other Citizens of Georgia Power were working on Rainbow House, the county’s children’s shelter.

A group of volunteers used the Rainbow House patio as a spot where they could sort through items of clothing.

Sharon Moore, an administrative assistant at Southern Company, made the early-morning trek from Covington to lend a hand at Rainbow House.

“I’m glad to be here to provide my support and keep the legacy (of King) alive,” said Moore.

Roberta Jackson stood across the patio, pulling small items of children’s clothing from a plastic bag. She folded the tyke-sized shirts and carefully placed them into a hard plastic container for storage.

Jackson is administrative specialist at On-Site Computer Training in Forest Park, and this was her second Day of Service.

“It felt so good to give back,” said Jackson.

Jackson said she was inspired after helping paint the home of a needy family last year.

“After serving that day, I knew I had to give back,” said Jackson.

She said she was so moved by last year’s Day of Service activity, she invited her 24-year-old niece to join her in helping out at Rainbow House.

Several students from On-Site Computer Training joined her for the same reasons.

“They wanted to give back,” she said. “They are unemployed and they understand the value of helping out.”

To’Nia Washington said she was grateful for the volunteer efforts. She is a child development worker at Rainbow House.

“We really do appreciate it,” she said. “It’s a task to keep things together. Sometimes we get an overflow of donations that we have to manage.”

Secur’us House Outreach Services Advocate Kristy Taylor said the free help is invaluable.

“It means a great deal to us because we strive to make this a tranquil and safe place for the people we serve,” said Taylor. “The small tokens of appreciation from Georgia Power go a long way to our residents. They really appreciate it. And on such an iconic day. We give so much every day, for others to give back to us, it means a lot.”

Georgia Power worker Aristotle Savage said his daughter volunteered with him one year and the community service stuck with her.

“As we left, she told me ‘It feels good to volunteer,’” he said. “That’s why I continue to do it, to set the example for her.”

Diana Chow and Richard Leonhardt worked alongside Savage and Tiffany Smith outside Secur’us House.

“It’s not so much a resolution but I wanted to bring more into my life this year,” said Leonhardt.

Volunteers spent the morning separating and sorting through donated clothing, jackets and coats for the children who call Rainbow House home.

D. J. Robins, 15, helped move the freshly-packed boxes of clothes into a storage room. He is the son of the one of the volunteers.

“It’s a pretty neat experience helping give back,” said Robins. “It makes me feel good.”

Long-time volunteer Zena McGruder said the Day of Service is more than the painted walls or organized closets volunteers provide. She said the day represents a revival of community service, particularly for young people.

McGruder has volunteered in Day of Service for seven of the past eight years. She missed out on 2011, the year her twin daughter and son were born.

“This one hits a little more at home for me,” said McGruder, her eyes panning the toy-filled living area at Rainbow House.

“I can’t wait until they get a little older so that they can come and see and volunteer,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing to experience. It’s a day of giving back. It’s definitely not a day off.”

For Emmanuel, volunteering is about teaching his children to be good citizens.

“You always have to keep them in Christ,” he said. “At this tender age, you have to instill it in them. I’m very proud of my kids.”

Donations can be made to Rainbow House at 879 Battlecreek Road, behind Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services in Jonesboro. To learn more about how to help, call 770-478-6905 or visit www.rainbowhouseinc.org.

To reach Secur’us House, call 770-960-7153.