October 2008

Loving every minute of it!

Resourceful retirees get the job done

For Roger Smith, it was déjà vu all over again: a natural disaster, a call for help and travel to uncertain conditions.

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Debris from Tropical Storm Fay is chipped for landfill cover and mulch.

“After Hurricane Katrina, we slept in tents and ate military meals ready-to-eat until the power got back on,” Smith says. “You just never know what you’ll see.”

Once in Florida after Tropical Storm Fay, Smith found power restored but extensive damage. Thousands of downed trees and other debris had to be moved by heavy equipment before cleanup could begin.

Smith is among the TVA retirees and former employees who provide assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency after natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and storms. The retiree organization BVI coordinates the work assignments and provides training for participants.

Smith, a former Nuclear Security officer at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, works several months each year coordinating a team of contractors who remove storm debris and help property owners through FEMA’s damage-reimbursement process.

“Helping people when they need it most is a great way to enjoy my retirement,” he says.

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FEMA debris specialist Roger Smith

Dozens of TVA retirees have helped restore homes and businesses after natural disasters since Hurricane Hugo in 1987, and they’ve worked more than 50 disasters in 18 states just since 2005. This year alone, BVI has sent more than 100 retirees to work for FEMA in hardhit areas such as Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Business is up by 40 percent over last year – which had been the busiest year ever, says BVI President Mike Lamb. BVI also provides experienced contractors to help TVA with short-term projects.

To learn more, visit the BVI Web site.

Reaching the next generation

Other retirees support TVA as volunteers through BVI closer to home. Eddie and Kathleen Garrison were among the 74 retiree volunteers who taught basic water-safety skills to 37,000 children this year in schools in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“We love being around the children,” says retiree Kathleen Garrison, “And knowing our work could help save a life really keeps us going.” Still other dedicated retiree volunteers welcome thousands of tourists to TVA visitor centers at Fontana and Norris dams and Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant.

“Because of the 146 volunteers staffing visitor centers at many TVA facilities, the story of TVA reached more than 80,000 visitors from at least 45 states and 30 foreign countries,” says Lamb. “These volunteers are always eager to share the story of TVA with someone new.”

TVA’s retiree family is more than 20,000 members strong, and more than half of them belong to the TVA Retirees Association. BVI and TVARA often work closely to serve retirees and support TVA. The Retirees Association’s 21 chapters across the Valley focus on volunteerism, advocacy on behalf of TVA and healthcare education. Chapters can apply for grants from BVI to conduct community-service projects, as well. For more information, visit the TVARA Web site.

No matter the activity — from dumping debris to saving second-graders, TVA retirees are still serving the Valley, and loving every minute of it.

What is BVI?

A non-profit organization of TVA retirees that provides volunteer support to TVA for a number of activities, including staffing TVA visitor centers and providing water-safety training for school children.

BVI also provides short-term contract employees for TVA and for disaster-recovery efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

See the BVI Web site at www.mybvi.org.

What is TVARA?

An association for all TVA retirees that provides social and service opportunities.

Visit www.tvara.org to get involved.