For Jeff Bishop, lending a helping hand is almost second nature.
“My family has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for many years. I have memories of salvaging boards from a school that was being demolished so they could be used on a rehab project,” said Bishop, vice president and chief financial officer for Omaha Public Power District.
Last weekend, Bishop was back at it, working to beautify a house in the Old Towne neighborhood of Bellevue. The homeowners told volunteers they were working to rebuild their lives after flooding destroyed their previous home three years ago. On Sept. 24, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha and community volunteers, including 40 OPPD employees, were there to help.
“The goal of Rock the Block really is to bring Habitat to the neighborhoods and the families that we serve throughout our five-county area,” said Kenneth Mar, area director for Habitat Omaha, which serves Omaha and Burt, Cass, Sarpy and Washington counties.
For this particular event, Mar said the organization, with help from a total of 100 volunteers, including those from OPPD, assisted 18 families.
They moved items to dumpsters, installed storm doors, mowed yards, cleaned gutters, completed painting projects and stained decks.
“The goal is to drive community service – neighbors helping neighbors, serving the community they live in,” Mar said.
“My grandfrather volunteered with Habitat for three decades,” Bishop said. “I’ve followed his commitment, participating over the years, and it’s incredibly rewarding.”
He said OPPD’s work with Habitat Omaha is just one way OPPD employees are living the utility’s core values of having a passion to serve, honoring our communities, and caring about each other.
Those values extend to contracted employees, as well. Wright Tree Service worked with OPPD’s Forestry team to provide tree trimming services at the same house a day earlier. That, combined with landscaping and whole house painting, among other things, provided the kind of spruce up that the residents couldn’t have done on their own.
“The homeowner, Roy Wilson, was so grateful,” said Jamie Wagner, OPPD’s Community Relations project manager. “He said he and his wife are on fixed incomes and could never have afforded to pay for all that needed to be done.”
Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike was among those pitching in to help.
“He even loaned several volunteer teams his own tools,” Wagner said.
“I feel that it is important that we are active in the community that we get to serve and that we also give back to the community that provides us with so much,” Bishop said. “It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be a part of the team working for such a great purpose.”
OPPD has worked with Habitat Omaha on similar efforts over the past couple of years. Last May, more than 60 OPPD employees helped beautify four homes and two parks in the city of Blair. OPPD also worked to Rock the Block in both north and south Omaha in 2019, before the pandemic started. Like this latest effort in Bellevue, the Omaha events involved projects to better neighborhoods, one block at a time.
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