Part six of six: Huck House Supporters
Meet Rebecca, An AEP employee whose passion for Huck House launched a new partnership and tradition
Rebecca works as a project coordinator at American Electric Power. She participates in AEP’s Employee Resource Groups, which give workers opportunities to volunteer and share their talents in ways that will help the community. When she first received an email about a potential project to provide holiday lighting for the Huckleberry House, she was intrigued.
“I wasn’t familiar with Huck House, but I love Christmas lights. So I looked up the organization, and felt an instant connection to their mission.”
Rebecca faced homelessness herself as a young person. When she learned she was pregnant at 18, her stepfather kicked her out of the family home. “At the time, I didn’t know about places like Huck House,” she says. “It would have been nice to have options for support back then.”
The project became very personal for Rebecca and she was committed to making it a success. She visited the shelter several times, bringing her husband and daughter along, to take pictures and measurements. She met with the shelter’s maintenance staff to make sure the outlets could support the lights. Then, using the trigonometry and calculus she’s currently learning in her pursuit of an engineering degree, Rebecca devised a plan to light up all three stories of the house in grand fashion, including the angled roof and columns on the porch.
It would take 8,900 lights to do it right. And, she determined, it would take bucket trucks to safely get the lights up on the third floor. “I didn’t want anybody climbing a ladder that high to hang the lights,” she said. Of course, given the busy time of year for the energy industry, getting those trucks proved to be a challenge.
“But when I showed up on the morning of the lighting, there were four bucket trucks ready to go along with a small army of volunteers” she says. “It was great to see so much support for this project, and many hands make light work.”
Three and a half hours later, all the lights were up. “It was cold,” Rebecca says. “And it even started snowing, which was kind of appropriate, considering what we were doing. But it was a really awesome and rewarding experience.”
While Rebecca enjoyed every aspect of the project, the best part, of course, was the night of the lighting itself. “People were laughing, and crying, and hugging each other,” she recalls. “Seeing that reaction was a great feeling. I know, from personal experience, how tough life can be. Putting some light into these kids’ hearts for the holidays and taking their minds off the struggles, even for one night, made my Christmas last year.”
Rebecca’s passion for the project not only inspired others in her company to help with the holiday lighting project, it spurred an ongoing commitment from the organization to support Huck House and the community’s youth.
“Rebecca worked tirelessly to make the shelter shine for Christmas,” says Huckleberry House Development Director Sonya Thesing. “And her efforts paved the way to further engagement from her company. AEP Ohio’s Energy Efficiency team has taken a very active role in helping us with lighting in the shelter, which is a big deal given the 24-hour nature of our work. I don’t think Rebecca had any idea how much of a difference this project could make. But we’ll always be grateful that she chose to get involved.”