150 IBEW Local 1 volunteers turn out to help low-income, disabled and elderly St. Louisans

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REBUILDING TOGETHER: IBEW Local 1 volunteers turned out Saturday, April 28, to make electrical repairs and upgrades to the homes of 50 low-wage, disabled and elderly St. Louisans who could not afford to make the repairs themselves. This is the 15th year the Electrical Connection, a partnership between IBEW Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), have partnered with Rebuilding Together St. Louis, to help the less fortunate in the community. The work is paid for through a charitable fund financed by union members. – Labor Tribune photo

This is the 15th year the Electrical Connection has partnered with Rebuilding Together St. Louis to help those less fortunate in the community

By TIM ROWDEN

Editor

Some 150 brothers and sisters of IBEW Local 1, with the support of 40 signatory contractors, volunteered their time and talents Saturday, April 28, to provide free electrical repairs to 50 St. Louis area homeowners with Rebuilding Together-St. Louis.

This is the 15th year the Electrical Connection, a partnership between Local 1 and the National Electrical Contractors Association has participated in the program. In that time, the partnership has provided by more than $850,000 in materials and labor to improve more than 500 homes for low-income, disabled and elderly St. Louisans.

Tim Green, director of political and government relations for the Electrical Connection, said about $100,000 in labor and materials went into this year’s effort.

‘IT’S GOOD TO GET OUT AND HELP’

MAJOR HARPER (left) and Jim Fowler work to replace a light fixture in the 3200 block of North Taylor Ave. as part of the rebuilding effort. – Nikos Frazier/St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo

Green said Local 1 representatives met with homeowners about a month ago to assess the needs of each house and plan for material purchases funded by union members through an account used for charitable giving. Green said union members contribute 30 cents per hour of their wages to fund the account.

Their work drew grateful praise from homeowners, as well as the attention of local media including the Labor Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fox 2 News, KMOV Channel 4 and KSDK Channel 5.

Electrician Bill Woodfin, of Bridgeton, helped make repairs to a number of homes in the Greater Ville neighborhood of north St. Louis, including the home of Korean war veteran James Edward Price, 85, and his wife have shared for 50 years.

The house, which Price said is more than 100 years old, also needed new light fixtures and electrical outlets.

“Words cannot express how thankful we are,” Price told Leah Thorsen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Woodfin, of Bridgeton, who has volunteered for the Rebuilding Together effort for 10 years, replaced one outlet that likely dated to the 1940s and had been used to power an oxygen machine.

“It’s good to get out and help,” he said.

In the same neighborhood, Local 1 members also replaced Lorraine Stewart’s porch light and some dangerously worn wiring, and installed ground outlets in her bathroom and kitchen, and security lights in her backyard.

IBEW LOCAL 1 volunteers gather supplies before heading out to make repairs for St. Louis homeowners. – Labor Tribune photo

Stewart, a widow, raised four daughters and a son in the house and has lived there since 1966.

“You don’t find too many people willing to help,” Stewart, 85, said. “It’s amazing to me that they would do this.”

‘WE LOVE ORGANIZED LABOR’

Dave Ervin, executive director of Rebuilding Together-St. Louis spoke to the volunteers as they gathered early Saturday morning at the Local 1 union hall in St. Louis.

“I’m basically the ambassador for all these homeowners that can’t help themselves, and I’m here to thank you,” Ervin said. “You’re doing something very good, helping the seniors, the disabled, the low-income. They have been dealing with difficult things for years and years and today they’re going to get them fixed.

“We’ve been doing this for 15 years,” Ervin said. “And we just love Organized Labor and IBEW Local 1. We can’t thank you enough.”

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