Jody Rodgers, the Lead Line Supervisor of OUC’s mutual aid deployment to Fairhope, received heartfelt hand-written thank you letters from Fairhope East Elementary fifth graders and responded in kind.
“Thank you for saving my mom’s eggs,” wrote Hayden, who also wanted to know if there were a “button to turn on the power?”
Dawson wrote to say his hurricane experience was “horrible, even though I slept through half of it.” Four days without power in the heat and no internet, well, that’s boring, he added.
Annabel penned that she was “so greatful” for “wonderful electrisians,” while Beau sent “salutations” and Nell wondered “how many volts are in a single wire,” ending with “you guys are the best!”
Then there was Felicity with her story of riding out Hurricane Sally as it battered the small city of Fairhope, Ala., in the early morning hours of Sept. 16. She heard trees fall and “creaking noises,” and when she went outside she saw a “bunch of powerlines” down on the ground….
One by one, the letters — 12 in all — from Fairhope East Elementary School fifth graders and two teachers made it a point to thank OUC linemen for helping to restore power to their community. A few students added drawings to their hand-written thank you letters, which were mailed to OUC and delivered to Jody Rodgers, the Lead Line Supervisor on the mutual aid deployment to Fairhope. He shared the letters with his crewmates on the storm team. (Read their letters here: fairhopeletters from students)
In his 35 years as an OUC lineman, Rodgers has read a lot of letters from people thanking line crews for getting their lights back on after a storm. There’s a space dedicated to thank you letters on a wall outside his Pershing office. While it’s always nice to feel appreciated, the letters from the Fairhope fifth graders really touched him, and he admits to getting teary eyed while reading them.
“It was amazingly impressive to receive these letters,” he said. “Here you have a bunch of fifth graders talking in their fifth grade vernacular and you can see their thought process. One thanked me specifically for saving his mom’s eggs.
“Those letters came from their hearts. I’ve never had anything move me like this has.”
So moved was he that he responded in kind, putting pencil to paper to write a personal note to each student and the two language arts teachers who led the letter-writing campaign, Holly Alman and Lindsay Sherer. (Read Rodgers’ letters here: fairhoperesponse from jody rodgers)
Every student who asked a question received an answer: Yes, Hayden, there is a button for turning on power, and it’s at a substation; two wires each carry 120 volts into your home, Nell. Rodgers also expressed empathy for the ordeal they had gone through and enthusiastically assured all of them that he and his crew were glad to have been able to help Fairhope.
He ended every letter the same:
Alman and Sherer said they organized the letter-writing exercise as an educational experience in the art of sending a “friendly letter.” A proper way to express thanks is through a mailed letter, not by text or email, they told their students.
“We used this as a learning opportunity, not only for school but also how to be grateful for when people do nice things for them,” said Alman.
They gave their fifth grade students, about 100 in all, the choice of writing to one of the eight utilities that had sent crews to help Fairhope. As of Nov. 3, only the kids who wrote OUC had received replies.
“He went out of his way to get in touch with us and express his gratitude,” Sherer said of Rodgers. “I read Jody’s letters to the entire class.”
Added Alman: “It was neat for them to see that their letters just didn’t go somewhere and never get read. I hope that they carry that with them and know that thank you letters mean a lot to people.”
That they do.