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APSO paints happier world with service benefiting 11 Alabama nonprofits

Everyone is beautiful and unique, in their own special way.

That’s the message Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) members are sharing through a colorful painting they created for Glenwood, inscribed with the slogan “You are Beautiful.”

During APSO’s Jan. 29-31 convention in Birmingham, members took part in dual service projects. Several APSO volunteers applied loving touches to a cheerful portrait of smiling children for Glenwood’s Allan Cott School, and more than 100 members painted wooden benches to be given to nonprofits statewide.

APSO leaders asked artist Portia Williams to pencil sketch a painting to be completed for the service project. Williams, a commissioned artist who paints oil portraits and whimsical paintings with acrylics, has sold her art since 2015. She has gained quite a following.

“When APSO reached out to me to do the painting, this was right up my alley,” said Williams, Human Resources associate for Labor Relations at Alabama Power and a Magic City APSO member for about 10 years. She created a drawing of five youngsters of different nationalities and backgrounds, allowing members to fill in the colors, similar to a coloring book.

APSO art project delivers powerful message from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Williams helped APSO members “put paint to canvas” for about 2 hours. She added finishing touches to the canvas at her home studio.

Glenwood Inc. Development Manager Tracee Nix talked with APSO members and was thrilled to see their outpouring of support. Since Glenwood’s founding in 1974, Nix said the organization has served a lot of people who have had nowhere else to go. Started by several families with children who had mental health needs, Glenwood today touches 2,000 lives annually by providing diagnostic and educational services for children, all the way through residential services for adults. Another 16,000 families receive training or referral services.

“We asked APSO to use the theme ‘You are Beautiful’ because we have some individuals at Glenwood who aren’t always told that, or don’t always hear that,” said Nix, who has worked at Glenwood for four years. “You don’t have to do a lot – add a small piece from your heart to this piece of art. Aren’t we all made more beautiful as we are woven together?”

Magic City Chapter member Kimberly Maryland was happy that APSO selected Glenwood for a service project.

“I didn’t know I’d be seeing this today,” said Maryland, a communications specialist for Public Relations at Alabama Power. “This was a divine appointment. Glenwood saved my life back in 2002.”

Maryland’s son, Matthew, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and his pediatric neurologist referred her to Glenwood.

“He wanted me to connect with counselors and also other parents who were going through some of the same things I was going through,” said Maryland, whose son is 22 and in college. “I was able to go to Glenwood and meet some awesome people, parents that really helped me navigate through all the changes going on in my life. I’ve told numerous people that – emotionally – Glenwood saved my life.”

Paul Agostini, vice president of Education and Applied Behavior Analysis Services at Glenwood, is excited to welcome the artwork to the Allan Cott campus.

“Art is so impactful and has a calming effect on people,” said Agostini, who has served Glenwood for seven years. “It’s so important for our students. We deliver top-tier services at Glenwood.

“In everything we do within our school, we want to create an environment of learning that fosters support,” he said. “We work to create a calm, supportive environment. Each one of our students – each person – is beautiful, and we want to reinforce that message with them on a daily basis … It’s great to be able to partner with APSO to further this mission.”

Williams felt much joy in adding her artistic talents to the APSO service project.

“This painting will tell children they are important, they are special,” she said. “It’s a great way to come together as a community to help someone who can really use our help and share this message. We’re all made better because of it.”

Other activities of the APSO convention included installing 2020 statewide APSO President Kodi Belford, and the 10 chapter presidents: Krista Presnall, Plant Barry; Keisha Chapman, Eastern Division; Jason Miller, Plant Gaston; Dion Oliver, Plant Gorgas; Kaylon Mikula, Magic City; Rachel Edgil, Plant Miller; Cynthia Tatum, Mobile Division; Rolanda Jones, Southeast-Farley; Wendy Barnes, Southern Division; and Susie Harris, Western Division.

Jodi Webb, 2019 president of the Plant Gaston Chapter and an environmental compliance specialist at Gaston, won APSO’s prestigious Patsy Topazi Award for excellence in serving one’s community.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)