That’s What Friends are For

Friends since high school, Paul (l.) and Kevin went on to work together for more than two decades at Potomac Edison's Cumberland Service Center.

May 12, 2021

Being an employee at FirstEnergy makes you part of a family where colleagues go above and beyond for each other. This describes the bond between Potomac Edison’s Kevin Preston, supervisor, Regional Operations, and former coworker Paul Plummer.

“I’ve known Paul since high school, so our friendship goes back about 30 years,” said Kevin. “I even introduced Paul to his wife, Kristi. We ended up working together at Potomac Edison’s Cumberland (Md.) Service Center, where Paul served as a line worker for 27 years.”

About a year ago, Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and a short time later, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Paul could no longer work and was forced to go on long-term disability. After hearing this devasting news about his friend, Kevin knew he had to do something to help.

He learned from Kristi that Paul had always wanted to take a scenic train ride around the western United States. After contacting several local nonprofits with no luck, Kevin reached out to FirstEnergy’s Jim Crowder, consultant, Regional External Affairs, for assistance.

“Jim really got the ball rolling,” continued Kevin. “He put me in touch with the United Way of Allegany County, which serves Cumberland and the surrounding area. The organization helped with our fundraising effort, and donations made by employees qualified for the FirstEnergy Foundation’s Matching Grant Program.”

According to Kevin, people came through in a big way. “We were hoping to raise about $3,000 to cover the cost of the trip for Paul and his wife,” he said. “We ended up raising nearly $32,000 – a true testament to the generosity of Potomac Edison employees.”

Paul poses for a photo during the United Way check presentation with his daughters Page (far l.), Kailee (far r.) and his wife, Kristi.

Paul was overwhelmed when he received the check during a surprise gathering attended by his family, United Way representatives, and many of his friends and former coworkers. “I had no idea they were putting this train ride together for me,” said Paul. “It was nice to receive the money for the trip and other expenses, but what meant even more was getting to spend time with all my friends and family. It was a really special day.”

Paul and his wife are scheduled to take a two-week train tour from Montana to Utah in July. He can’t wait to see the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone National Park and many other sites of interest. Leftover funds will be used to support Paul’s family.

“This not only helps Paul, it helps the United Way, because employees can see firsthand the good work the organization does for people in the community,” said Kevin. “Many of the employees who donated had never given before, but they’ll continue to support the organization now after seeing the positive impact it has on people.”

Kevin wanted to give special thanks to Amy Crock, Distribution technician, and Michele McGuire, advanced administrative assistant, for their support and clerical assistance. He added: “I think raising this money did as much for employees as it did for Paul and his family. It was amazing to be a part of this effort, with everyone coming together to help out a former coworker. After all, that’s what friends are for.”