Hammers clacked and electric saws spun Sept. 26 as Alex Nyilas of Cutchogue and seven fellow PSEG Long Island employees left their local offices to join forces on constructing a handicapped-accessible ramp for a physically challenged Bay Shore woman.
The day-long build was guided by Rebuilding Together Long Island, an organization that helps Long Islanders by providing needed home repairs at no cost. Mr. Nylias said members of the organization, including Stella Hendrickson, who directed the build, offered guidance on what to do on-site while they worked.
“Specifically, the wheelchair ramp build that we did, in my own words, was an excellent example of the type of volunteer work this group does,” he said.
Ms. Hendrickson said longtime RTLI members also helped on-site, including 89-year-old Joe Bodkin, who supervised the project.
“He made sure everyone had something to do,” she said. “The volunteers worked side by side with RTLI folks who have been doing this for many, many years,”
When Mr. Nyilas, who works in the Hicksville PSEG Long Island office, said he heard a co-worker discussing the build, he instantly wanted to get involved.
“He asked for us to do the wheelchair build as part of our Community Partnership Program,” he said. “When I heard about it, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to help someone in need.”
PSEG Long Island’s Community Partnership Program encourages employees to pursue such projects, said Elizabeth Flagler, the utility’s head of external communications. Local organizations fill out a request through the program, and PSEG Long Island works with those organizations to help identify candidates in need.
“We receive thousands of requests each year,” she said in an email. “We do our best to try to support all areas of our service territory.”
Ms. Hendrickson said RTLI also receives many requests for project builds. These can come from rehab centers, hospitals or, as in this case, individuals.
While they are not affiliated, PSEG Long Island has worked with RTLI on previous projects and has collaborated with more than 400 organizations in the past year, according to Ms. Flagler. “We’ve participated in 11,000 events in the last year, so community involvement is very important for us,” she said.
Mr. Nyilas, a lifelong Long Islander, has worked in the electric utility industry for 27 years. He has been with PSEG Long Island, where he is an economic development specialist, for five years.
“I work with small to medium commercial businesses and assist them with energy efficiency outreach,” he said.
According to the PSEG website, RTLI is one of the leading organizations in Nassau and Suffolk counties providing home repairs at no cost to income-qualified clients.
Mr. Nyilas said this was his first build with RTLI, but after this project, he’d be interested in pursuing another to help someone in need.
“If something comes up and it meets our goals, then I want to help the community,” he said.
Photo caption: Alex Nyilas of Cutchogue cuts a block of wood with assistance from a RTLI employee. (PSEG courtesy photo)