Local chimney sweep brings smiles and songs into customers' lives

"We start our day off every day with a prayer," said Adam Pilling of The Chimney Sweep, LLC.

He and owner Cleveland Pope are known throughout the Wiregrass for their business, but it is not the impeccable cleaning that has made the company an icon.

For over 31 years, Pope has been servicing homes in the Tri State area, getting re-certified as a licensed technician every three years.

But again, his up-to-date knowledge is not the reason he is well known throughout the area.

"Chimney Sweeps, LLC is synonymous to the singing chimney sweep," said Pope.

After every customer, Pope sings the iconic song "Chim-chimney, chim-chimney, chim-chim cheree."

This, along with his top hat that he dons for every job, has made him a symbol in the Dothan area.

But he said, the job is not about making money, he views it as his ministry.

"I'm a Christian first, and a chimney sweep second," said Pope.

When his customers open their doors, and their homes to him, he sees an opportunity to share an encouraging word, and even a prayer sometimes.

"The customer I just left now, I asked how she was and she said 'I'm up but not as cheerful as you,' and I said well you're up and God is still good, no matter what," said Pope.

This extroverted outlook and his faith have taken him well beyond the Wiregrass.

A few months ago, Pope got the opportunity of a lifetime - to service the White House.

"I was the first certified technician from Alabama to go into the White House, and I was the first African American to service those chimneys," said Pope.

And of course, in Cleveland Pope fashion, not missing a beat, to sing that is.

"When I was standing there, to be on top the White House looking back across the front lawn with the Washington Monument to my left and the Lincoln memorial toward the end, it was just breathtaking," said Pope. "When I was on top of one of the chimneys, I just started singing 'God Bless America.'"

Which was a message he brought to the inside of the Presidents' mansion as well.

"When I was on the inside actually sweeping the fireplaces, I was actually praying for our President," said Pope. "That's what  lot of people at my church were saying, 'What are you going to do when you get there?', 'What are you going to tell the President?', but he's on vacation when these repairs are being done to the White House. But the prayers are still there."

Pope is 57 years old, with hopes of retiring at the age of 60.

With only three short years left, he said he already has an idea of how he wants his legacy to continue.

Pilling, along with three other able-bodied, ambitious men, will take over, each serving a quadrant of the area.

"When I get certified in August, I'll get my top hat," said Pilling.

And already practicing the song, the tune will also carry on.

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