On Thursday, September 21, the communities of Glades and Hendry counties hosted an appreciation lunch for the linemen who have been working around the clock to restore electricity to their residents.
The luncheon fed over four hundred linemen in the Barron Park in LaBelle. The community really rallied together and produced an enormous feast matched only by the gratitude of our local people.
I spoke with Trinidad “Candy” Perez who had the initial idea to host the appreciation lunch. “I was driving with my granddaughters and I saw three line men standing on the outside of an office. I told my granddaughters ‘I want to do something. I want to show them our appreciation.’ We may be a small community but without them we wouldn’t have light; our tears wouldn’t be taken away or anything. The way I see it, we need to show our appreciation. Then I wanted to see if the community could help,” she told me.
“We didn’t ask for any money. It was only food that was donated to feed the men.” Candy added.
Barron Park was completely surrounded by power trucks from all over the United States filling up all of the available parking and spilling out into the streets surrounding the park.
I spoke with three linemen, Sandon Dorer, John Payne, and Jesus Pena who are here all the way from New Mexico and had been in the area for eighteen days. “It’s a long time,” said Dorer. “They broke out the army cots for us now. We are comfortable now,” added Payne speaking about the tents that they were sleeping in at the Civic Center.
Sandon laughed “We are not used to this humidity!” but he said that the generosity and kindness of the people in the area made the humid days bearable. “We are eating frog legs…that’s a new one!”
I asked if they had had any other appreciation luncheons in other areas that they have had extended work stays across the country and John said “This has been it.”
It was a true display of gratitude and the southern hospitality that the community of LaBelle is known for. Thank you to all who donated food for the lunch, and their time serving the linemen who have been working tirelessly to bring our town back to light.