'Orange angels' unite to rebuild the place where she made her memories

Spire employees giving back

Debra sits in her living room. The paint on the walls is chipping, the carpet has seen better days and the door to the kitchen is missing the knob. It’s been that way for years now.

“I’ve lived in this house for 33 years, and I’ve never considered leaving.”

She’s beaming with pride as she talks about the memories she’s made in this house.

“I’ve had four sons here. I used to get their names mixed up. Ya’ know how moms do that? I’d call Paul, Tom and Tom, Paul. Well, there was a little boy next door, and he was over here playing one day when I got the boys’ names backwards, and he said, ‘My mother doesn’t know our names either,’” she laughs as she tells the story.

But it’s almost hard to hear her over the buzz of chainsaws, the loud classic rock blaring from the radio and the shouts and laughs of volunteers.

Today, her property is teaming with orange shirts, as Spire employees renovate her home.

“Yeah we’ve been out here most of the day. We’ve been landscaping. Putting all the dirt down. Using the leaf blower, the weed eater and definitely the chainsaw,” said Tony Timlin, a construction worker at Spire.

This group of employees is partnering with Rebuilding Together – St. Louis (RTS), an organization that provides home repairs for the elderly and disabled, with the help of the local community and volunteers. Anyone with a home that needs repairs, or friends and family of those in need, can fill out an application outlining the scope of the renovations.


Spire employee volunteering


“We receive 500 applications a year, and with current funding, we’re able to accept about 150 of them,” Cheryl Reale, development director at RTS, said. So they depend largely in part on volunteers.

RTS takes care of most of the work requiring licensed professionals, and then the volunteers are called in. For this project, 35 Spire employees stepped up to the plate, completing renovations on two homes in the St. Louis area.

“My mom’s 80. She lives out in the country and I go over there all the time because home maintenance has to get done. But a lot of folks don’t have anyone to help them. That’s why it’s important for us to be out here doing this,” Tony said.

“They’re all smiling, and they’re so nice,” Debra said. I mean they look like angels to me. They are orange angels.”

Spire employees giving back to those they serve


In their short time with Debra, the team tackled multiple projects.  They rebuilt her back deck, fixed a handrail to the basement and updated electrical and lighting issues.

And Debra, who has been a Spire customer for years, couldn’t stop smiling as she chatted with employees, drank Diet Coke and gave directions on what to do. In between commenting on the new color of the wall and laughing at something her son said, she talks about how grateful she is to the Spire employees for working on her home.

“They’re all smiling, and they’re so nice,” Debra said. I mean they look like angels to me. They are orange angels.”