Penelec Employee in Need Receives ‘Incredible Support’

A recent photo of John with baby Carter, born prematurely March 25.

May 24, 2019

If the test of an organization is how it responds when a member needs help, Penelec is among the best.

Recently, John Kerr Jr., Line Construction & Maintenance lead with Penelec Operations in Erie, Pa., and his wife, Elizabeth, were expecting their fourth child – a boy due later this year. However, Elizabeth went into labor at only 24 weeks and, on March 25, delivered baby Carter. At birth, he weighed just one pound.

As news of the baby’s serious medical situation was shared with employees in Erie and other Penelec locations, the Kerrs began receiving cards offering spiritual and emotional support – many with checks. Soon, fundraisers were organized to create greater awareness and raise more money. With the help of a local Sheetz convenience store that donated 60 sandwiches, drinks and muffins, an event in Erie raised $1,100. A Johnstown luncheon brought in $300. A collection in Altoona raised more than $900. Meanwhile, Erie employees have been dropping money into a jar in the line shop and others have contributed various amounts. To date, nearly $4,800 has been donated.

With this unexpected family crisis, John applied to FirstEnergy’s Catastrophic Assistance and Relief for Employees (CARE) program and received an extra five weeks of paid time-off. In addition, it’s been arranged for John to work only in the Erie line shop instead of going out of town when his project crew travels, so John and Elizabeth can continue to Visit Carter in the local hospital daily.

Doctors have told them it’s critical they be with Carter as much as they can. John noted that if Carter is having a bad day and Elizabeth can hold him, he immediately begins to stabilize. Meanwhile, they are rotating through baby sitters to help care for their other children.

To John, the company’s assistance has been a tremendous help. “The amount of support I’ve received has been incredible. I go home and open the mailbox and there is another card offering support and prayers. I almost feel not worthy, but with everything going on, it really does feel good to know that I have so much support here,” he said.