IBEW 309 retirees help with community work, even during pandemic

SCOTT NICHOLSON installs a light fixture in one of the bedrooms.. – Labor Tribune photo

Belleville, IL – While life in general has been turned inside out this year, one constant has been the IBEW Local 309 retirees’ projects for people in need of some first-rate electrical work by the real experts.

Last week, ringleader Bill Hagene and two of his cohorts were trimming out a five-bedroom house in Belleville being retrofitted for Hoyleton Youth and Family Services, which will operate it as a group home for three young people and two resident adults.

The rangy ranch with a fully equipped lower level is on Vandor Court, just off N. 37th Street in a quiet neighborhood. Work began almost a year ago and has continued off and on with up to six retirees working at a time, enjoying the work and being with each other.

DAN SODAM gets his tools ready at the house on Vandor Court in Belleville. – Labor Tribune photo

“It’s really been a neat project,” Hagene said. “The COVID-19 pandemic slowed everything down. But these guys have worked on it like they’re doing it for a living.”

Hoyleton helped a lot by having the ceiling and some old walls ripped out and the old insulation sucked out while providing access to the attic as well. An old swimming pool was removed, too, leaving a nice, flat back yard.

One of Hagene’s cohorts, Scott Nicholson, said he enjoyed seeing some of the original furnishings. “It was straight out of the ’60s, like you’d see on ‘Get Smart’,” he said.

The crew has also been working on a new Habitat for Humanity house in O’Fallon, Ill., and updated the home of a World War II veteran, with Local 309 paying for some needed parts.

Hoyleton, based in Fairview Heights, began 125 years ago as an orphanage in the Washington County town of Hoyleton, with roots in the United Church of Christ’s forerunner, the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

It now serves some 2,000 people a year throughout southern Illinois, providing foster care, counseling, therapeutic residential care, and support for young adults and the Hispanic community.

“For over 125 years, Hoyleton has created a better world for the children and families we serve,” the agency’s website states. “Over 125 years, our team members, programs and locations have changed, but our mission has stayed the same – to help children and families build brighter futures so our communities can improve and become stronger for everyone.”

The website, hoyleton.org, shows opportunities to volunteer and to contribute.



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