SC Employee Serves Locals Experiencing Homelessness

Eduardo Bodon prepares and distributes hot meals to those in need in Columbia, South Carolina

Dominion Energy employees care deeply about the communities where they live and work; going the extra mile even when they're not on the clock.


Growing up, Eduardo Bodon was familiar with the sight of the constant sweat of two jobs lingering on his mother's brow. Afterschool, neighbors looked after Eduardo and his older two brothers in a neighborhood that was more like family. Through these times, Eduardo developed the understanding of the preciousness of a hot meal on the table.

"I grew up in a humble area back home. Humble, where I'm from, is poor," says Eduardo. "My family, you know, we struggled a bit."

Little did Eduardo know, those struggles would translate later in life, in a different Carolina, to incredible empathy for complete strangers.

Over a decade ago, Eduardo came to the continental US, in search of better opportunities to provide for his mother and family back home. In just a couple of months, he landed a job as a meter connector journeyman. At the core of his occupation was the directive to re-connect, or disconnect, people's power. While turning the lights off on those who were clearly struggling, and to whom he could relate, was never easy, Eduardo plowed ahead in honest work. Until one day.

"There was an old lady; she was like 70-something years old, almost 80. I had to cut the lights off," Eduardo says, adding that the woman was caring for her autistic great-grandson because the boy's parents were out of the picture.

The great-grandmother was unable to pay her bill.

Eduardo worked with his supervisor to ensure the woman's lights stayed on and she received the assistance needed, but that moment sparked an even greater desire to improve the lives of others within Eduardo's community experiencing helplessness.

"If you didn't have food in your house, back home, your neighbors would give you something to eat, or you go work in their farm after school and they'll feed you," he recalled. "But you always had somebody to help you. You come over to [the US] and nobody is helping these people. That, for me, is what is sad.

That night, Eduardo went home and made a video about the elderly woman and her great-grandson's needs. Food and donations for the twosome poured in shortly after posting it on Facebook. He knew he'd done what his mother had always taught him was right, but it still didn't satiate his now-growing appetite to make a difference on a much larger scale.

"I know going to bed without eating," said Eduardo, humility coating his words. "So, I was like, maybe I take some plates of food and take it out there to the community that I know is struggling."

"There" turned out to be Finlay Park; located in the heart of downtown Columbia where the homeless, even whole families, tend to congregate. Immediately, Eduardo was overwhelmed at the aching sight of abundant need. He knew, instantly, he had underestimated the breadth of a world he had only gotten a glimpse of as a child.

"That first time I did rice, beans and fried chicken," Eduardo laughed. "That was too much."

It cost him $100 to make 30 meals from that spread. Afterwards, there were still 200 pairs of hungry, desperate eyes staring back at him and his empty serving vessels.

"From then on, I started doing food for the homeless because, for me, those people need more," says Eduardo. "At least the other people I was helping, they have a house. These people can't afford anything. They're living in the streets."

Eduardo rallied friends he'd met in the area, also from Puerto Rico, who happened to own a cafe, to help cook- knowing that extra kitchen space was critical to ensuring the only problem he would now encounter is running out of mouths to feed.

Using rice, pasta, and ground beef, he's mastered the art of stretching a dollar; filling 100 grumbling stomachs with just $150.

"I don't make a lot of money," Eduardo admits. "$100; some people think it's a lot of money, but $100, it's not a lot of money when you put it into perspective."

So, once a month, Eduardo sets aside a Saturday to boil large pots of rice and pasta, saute pounds and pounds of ground beef, and perhaps even whip up a few dozen cookies, before loading up his SUV with a mountain of to-go boxes and heading out to where those in need are waiting.

"My mom, if someone was struggling, she would try to help them. That's what I saw," says Eduardo. "Regardless of if you were struggling, you always have to help somebody else because, you never know: at one point, you could be them."

As fate would have it, prior to merging with then SCE&G, Dominion Energy lineman were responsible for restoring power to Eduardo's family home back in Carolina, Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

"My family said, "these people are awesome," Eduardo remembers.

It's been several years since Eduardo's emotional, pivot-point encounter with the elderly woman and her great-grandson. The Puerto Rico native now works for Dominion Energy as a Home Energy Check-up representative; in fact, choosing this job over another outside the company that offered a little more money- all because of his heart's desire to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

"I picked this job because through this job I knew I could help the community," says Eduardo. "We're over here helping people who really need help paying their bills."

Coming from a background where money wasn't everything, that sentiment still rings true for Eduardo today; carrying the spirit of his mother's giving nature from the stovetop and the parks to the homes of the customers he serves.