Festus, MO – Ozark Food Pantry President Carmelita Davidson described 2020 as “our most challenging year ever, but also the most inspiring in terms of community generosity.”
A pandemic that with every surge leaves more jobless, increasing demand for the pantry’s services, while also creating challenges for volunteers to serve. And in the midst of it – there were electrical issues at the food pantry.
The electrical problems have been resolved thanks to a donation from the Electrical Connection, a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
‘ALMOST IN TEARS’
“I’m almost in tears because the challenges have brought out the best in our community,” Davidson said. “I am so grateful to the Electrical Connection, IBEW and NECA for correcting our electrical issues, ensuring the safety of our volunteers and those we serve.”
The electrical problems were typical of organizations operating on a shoestring budget in an aging facility. Over the years, piecemeal repairs were made by those unskilled and unfamiliar with building codes. It included faulty wiring and issues with circuit breakers tripping in a facility that needed to power 14 freezers, three refrigerators and a walk-in cooler.
ANSWERED A CALL FOR HELP
Gary Bourd, who works at the food pantry, brought the issues to the attention of the Electrical Connection through Local 1 Business Representative Chuck DeMoulin, who is also president of the Jefferson County Labor Club.
DeMoulin notified Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs who collaborated with St. Louis NECA Executive Vice President Doug Martin on a plan to donate Electrical Connection-member services to upgrade the electrical systems.
On Dec. 10, IBEW-signatory contractor Pioneer Electric made the repairs. It also donated and installed light fixtures and laid the groundwork for the addition of a backup generator that the Ozark Food Pantry hopes to have in 2021.
“Everyone at Pioneer is familiar with the great work that Ozark Food Pantry does every year, so it was an easy call to pitch in and help,” said company President Dave Stanley.
Demand at the Ozark Food Pantry has shot up 30 percent since March of last year. It is now serving more than 100 families a week. To donate food or money to the pantry, call 636-933-9974 or visit its website at ozarkfoodpantry.com.
Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 steps in with new furnace,
AC unit for food pantry
When Pioneer Electric Owner Dave Stanley got the call that the Ozark Food Pantry was in need of some electrical updates, he paid a visit to the organization to see how his company could help.
While there, he noticed that one of the pantry’s furnaces, which was about 40 years old, and the AC unit desperately needed to be replaced. Stanley also owns Pioneer Mechanical, a signatory Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 contractor.
Stanley, a former IBEW Local 1 business representative, knew that the Electrical Connection had a program that provides financial assistance to local non-profit organizations, but he wasn’t sure if Local 36 had anything similar.
“I called Local 36 Business Representative Tom Leonard to see if Local 36 could provide some help to the pantry,” Stanley said. “I submitted a letter outlining what all needed to be replaced and that got the ball rolling.”
Leonard took the request before the Local 36 Executive Board, and it approved covering the costs for the equipment, materials and labor. Pioneer Mechanical did the work to replace both units.
“We are always happy to help those less fortunate, and the pantry provides a lot of help to the community,” Leonard said. “It’s the right thing to do.”