Entergy Mississippi employee builds house for neighbor
This Thanksgiving, Audrey Sistrunk celebrated the one-year anniversary of moving into her new home in Georgetown, Mississippi.
“It’s hard to say the emotions she went through,” said Ernest Thornhill (lineman first class, Hazlehurst), who built the house for Sistrunk. “She had never owned a house before.”
Thornhill and Sistrunk attend First Pentecostal Church of Georgetown, where Sistrunk has worked for many years as church secretary. She had been living alone in a trailer when family members asked her to move back to Louisiana last year. But Sistrunk was reluctant to leave her community and her church.
“She’s the sweetest little lady you’ll ever meet,” Thornhill said. “The Lord put it on my heart to do something for her and gave me the gift of carpentry.”
This year Thornhill added a carport and washroom to the home, which is located in Copiah County.
Thornhill started building the house in July 2015 and told Sistrunk it would be ready for her by Thanksgiving. He worked hard to keep his promise, putting in hours after work and on weekends and completing most of the project singlehandedly.
“She was able to move in the Saturday before Thanksgiving last year,” he said.
Thornhill collected $5,500 in donations for materials as well as a front door donated by Larry Edwards (lineman first class, Madison), who learned about Thornhill’s project on Facebook. As the house neared completion, he also received help from some unexpected guests.
“Four people showed up one Saturday when I was about to put on the roof,” Thornhill said. “They were from a different church and wanted to help.”
Thornhill continued working on the house after Sistrunk moved in. This year, he attached a carport and built a washroom on top of an existing concrete slab on the lot. For good reasons, the project has generated a lot of interest in his craftsmanship.
“I bet there have been 20 people who’ve asked me to build a house for them,” he said. “The work I did even gave me some new ideas I’m using to remodel my own home.”
Thornhill believes that service to others is part of his role as an Entergy Mississippi employee.
“It’s all about giving back,” he said. “My job involves working with the public every day, and when you see people struggling, you want to do as much as you can to help them.”