An electric smile

by | Jan 25, 2019 | Impact Stories

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, fire departments in the U.S. respond to approximately 45,210 home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction per year. Clearly, reliable electrical infrastructure is key when it comes to home safety and family stability, but for some in rural areas, it gets tricky.

Bryant Ellis is an Army veteran. He can tell you exactly how long he’s been retired (22 years, 7 months, 4 days and counting). He beat cancer and is a proud citizen, but a struggle with PTSD has made his life more challenging than you’d expect.

Bryant lives in a mobile home on his brother’s property in Hixson, where he only had temporary electric power borrowed from his brother’s home.  This meant his power was unreliable and even dangerous, since it wasn’t up-to-code. That’s when he learned the power of brotherhood.

Jamaine Akins, United Way of Greater Chattanooga employee and member of IBEW Chattanooga, rallied a group of electricians to help Bryant get permanent, safe electricity in his home. The job took several weeknights and as many as seven electricians working at a time.

“There’s nothing we can’t do together,” Jamaine says. When reflecting on the project, Jamaine says Bryant was always checking on the IBEW workers and being helpful. One day, Bryant was mowing his neighbor’s grass for them.

“It’s no wonder you’ve got that glow,” Bryant said of Jamaine. Whether he’s around the office or helping out a community member, Jamaine’s smile is contagious.