Lamarious Whetstone knows from experience that at some point in life, many people could use a “hands up” – not a handout.
He also knows that young people need real care and guidance in their formative years. That’s why Whetstone joins hundreds of volunteers at the Southern Division Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) to volunteer: to be the person who cares for others in times of need.
When he joined Alabama Power 11 years ago, Whetstone saw volunteering at Southern Division APSO – working with like-minded employees – as a way to give back. Now, as Lead Lineman and APSO President of the Southern Division, he encourages all employees to volunteer in their communities.
“It’s so nice to let the public see us in a different light,” said Whetstone, who works out of Montgomery Crew headquarters. “Volunteering gives us a chance to see and talk to people in the community and really give them a first-hand look at what we do every day.”
Alabama Power Lineman Lamarious Whetstone loves giving back to his community from the Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
Whenever possible, Whetstone lends a helping hand to the River Region Boys and Girls Clubs. The Mission is Personal: As the eldest of four children, Whetstone saw the difficulties his single mother faced as she tried to raise the family. For professional reasons, she had to move a lot.
“Maybe we had a job here and moved here, or we had to leave this home and move to another home … it was just one of those situations,” said Whetstone, who spent his early years in the rural town of Goodwater. in Coosa County. “Mum had the four of us – she had me when she was 16, so it was just one of those things where she was trying to raise a kid and figure it out on her own. Today I see it as one adventure at a time.”
As a youngster, Whetstone benefited greatly from the Boys and Girls Club, a big motivator for his giving back.
“I was taught by my grandparents that our purpose here is to serve,” Whetstone said. “I try to embody those ideals. I embody that part of what I do every day, not just through the Southern Division APSO, but through the church and through the Boys and Girls Club or through the YMCA, whatever it is that makes someone else’s life better can.”
In May, Whetstone and other APSO members of the Southern Division managed the 32ndnd Annual Charity Golf Tournament at Wynlakes Golf and Country Club in Montgomery was a great success. They raised $35,000 for projects that improve the lives of children.
“The Boys and Girls Club was one of my biggest things growing up because when we moved it was an escape,” he said. “You meet a lot of different people from different backgrounds. It was an escape from going home and not knowing what the day would be like.”
There Whetstone found valuable mentors and lasting friendships.
“They were just there to listen and they gave the best advice they could,” he said. “Just about life in general…
“You can do one of two things: you will either sink or you will swim. It might seem a bit harsh for kids, but when you grow up it really stands out. The “sinking” part – you can have it take you places you don’t want to go. You can float downhill and do things all day, or you can swim. You can take it day by day, you know, make the most of it, but try every day to make every day better than the last.
Whetstone found refuge in youth basketball and other sports. He learned to play everything from peewee basketball to high school sports from his coaches and learned important life lessons.
“I had a lot of inspirational people stepping in who were those father figures to a lot of kids, trying to keep us on track to stay out of trouble,” Whetstone said. “They just gave us hope that there’s something bigger out there – there’s a bigger future. There is a better place than where we were back then.”
The past does not determine your future
Whetstone wants to put good seeds into the lives of young people who may not have the easiest of starts.
For example, he coaches children ages 5 to 18 on a summer track team in Montgomery. When two of his daughters were younger, he and his wife took them to the Cleveland Avenue Boys and Girls Club, which has since closed. That’s how Whetstone met Darryl Woods, director of the Greater Montgomery Track and Field Dream Team YMCA, who asked him to help coach. Whetstone attended a coaching clinic and became more involved.
“I kind of picked it up and ran with it, and I’ve been training for about 10 years now,” he said.
Each summer the team starts with more than 100 children who train up to the Junior Olympics in August and qualify for district and regional meetings. At the end of the season there are over 50 children left. Whetstone is very proud that most years at least one of the club’s top athletes has received a scholarship offer.
“I’m trying to apply to these kids the things I was taught during summer track club,” said Whetstone, who played almost every sport at Coosa County Central High School in Hanover, Alabama. “It’s amazing to see these kids growing up and then as they grow and develop, go to school, still come back and be so grateful and appreciative of the things you taught them. All I ask of them is to do the same when their time comes.”
Last March, Whetstone led APSO members of the Southern Division to a Go Kickball League tournament benefiting the Brantwood Children’s Home, a Montgomery non-profit organization that provides a safe environment for abused, neglected and other at-risk children ages 10 to 21.
“It’s a world away from anything,” Whetstone said, “and people need to know they’re being taken care of.”
During the Brantwood event, APSO members played kickball and helped with a variety of children’s activities during the games. The event raised $13,000, said Brantwood executive director Gerald Jones, noting, “The fundraisers help raise the money that cares for children in foster care today.”
Carve a niche at Alabama Power
After graduating from high school, Whetstone studied about two years at a technical college, which eventually closed. Though this was an early disappointment, Whetstone remarked, “I think God had other plans for me.”
He served in the US Air Force and was honorably discharged and later worked at Russell Corp., now a sports brand under the Fruit of the Loom umbrella. Whetstone got a job at Alabama Power in August 2011 as a line crew assistant. He works on a Montgomery power delivery line crew where he moved through the ranks to become a lead lineman.
Whetstone thoroughly enjoys his job and helps teach the younger members of the line crew about safe working practices.
“It’s an opportunity to give back what was given to me,” Whetstone said. “We all had to be taught and learned about this trade and we all had help with it. Sometimes I take it upon myself to tutor the younger boys and try to update them on the dangers of the job as well as the importance of the job.
“The benefits go way beyond just turning the lights back on – people are really grateful,” he added. “It gives me a different perspective, and I hope others will see it in the same light and see it as an opportunity to give back to the community they serve.”
To learn more about Alabama Power employee and retiree volunteerism, click here.