Power lines and ballot boxes: a ‘Picture’ perfect volunteer

Power lines and ballot boxes: a ‘Picture’ perfect volunteer

Volunteerism is at the core of our values as a company. We are thankful for our team of 1,700-plus employees who dedicate countless hours every year to giving back to the communities we live in and serve. However, volunteerism can present itself in many different ways.  

Just ask the mayor of Picture Rocks, Pennsylvania, Dave Bender.  

Bender has been an employee at PPL Electric for the last 40 years and is currently a lineman leader. Beyond his responsibilities at PPL Electric, he is approaching his 28th year as the volunteer mayor of his small borough in Lycoming County.  

Aside from finding the time to do both, one can’t help but wonder how he became the mayor in the first place. 

“I had attended council meetings and was nominated,” Bender said. “The mayor who was seated at the time had actually fallen ill, so I filled his vacancy.” 

Bender served his first two-year term as a result of this situation. He petitioned to serve again at the end of his first term, won again, and continued to run. At times, he has been appointed to his position, or won the borough’s vote as a write-in candidate. 

Bender serves in traditional roles as a mayor, like attending council meetings and helping to make decisions for the community, but that’s not what has kept Bender at the helm of Picture Rocks for this long. He says that working through differences and listening to all sides has not only benefited the borough through the years, but it has been his biggest source of pride during his time as mayor. 

“Being able to work with our council and come up with solutions has been the most gratifying achievement,” he said. “Without their help and support, the progress we’ve made wouldn’t be possible. 

Just as Bender is grateful for his council back home, he’s equally grateful for his crew at PPL Electric. He tells this story to explain his appreciation: 

“I put a new roof on my father’s house about 15 or 20 years ago. A former lineworker at the time asked me what I was doing that upcoming weekend, and I told him about the project at my father’s house and that it would probably take the whole weekend to get done, plus a few days into the next week. The lineworker says to me, ‘Do you mind if I help?’ I couldn’t believe it. The next thing I know, the day comes to put the new roof on, and the lineworker shows up with a group of at least 12 of our guys. We got the job done in one afternoon. That says something about our team at PPL Electric.”

It’s the type of generosity shown to somebody who has long been committed to helping others. Volunteering, he says, has never been a question. 

“To call yourself a citizen of a municipality or a small borough like Picture Rocks, you have to be involved every chance that you get,” said Bender, whose wife, Melinda, and daughter also volunteer year-round in and around the borough. “That’s the most important thing to remember; to get anything done, you have to be involved.” 

After 40 years at PPL Electric, and after a mayoral tenure that has spanned four different decades, one would think Bender’s getting ready to take a step back and prepare for the next phase of his life. He was jokingly asked if he had plans to work and serve as mayor until the year 2100. 

“Well, that’s kind of early,” he chuckled.