By SHERI GASSAWAY
Irma Gaines has lived in her home in the 4500 block of Natural Bridge Ave. in North St. Louis for almost 60 years. The 83-year-old homeowner tried the best she could over the years to keep up with maintenance on the house.
But, she says, living on a fixed monthly income doesn’t leave much room for anything but bills, food and medicine much less costly repairs. The house had several electrical issues and had fallen into disrepair.
A HELPING HAND
On April 27, Ms. Gaines received a helping hand from volunteers with the Electrical Connection – a partnership between IBEW Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) – and Rebuilding Together St. Louis.
A team of five Local 1 electricians –– including journeymen Paul J. Doeren, Kelvin Idleburg and Anthony Norwood, and apprentices Andrico Holmes and Bill Clements – spent the morning fixing a number of electrical hazards and installing GFCI receptacles. They also added new light fixtures and energy efficient LED lighting. Most importantly to Gaines, the team provided wiring for a chair lift for her stairs.
‘IT’S A BLESSING’
“I don’t get around very well anymore because I have arthritis in my knees so this chair lift will really help me,” she said. “It’s a blessing to have these folks here today and I have nothing but praise for Rebuilding Together.”
Gaines’ house was one of 21 St. Louis City and St. Louis County homes that received free electrical repairs and improvements that day as part this year’s Electrical Connection/Rebuilding Together St. Louis partnership. More than 150 Local 1 electricians and 13 NECA contractors helped with the effort.
Local 1 Financial Secretary/Business Representative Dave Roth organizes the event each year. He said many of the union’s members grew up in the neighborhoods where they made the repairs.
HELPS THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY
“Not only were our volunteers able to make these homes more electrically safe and functional,” Roth said. “They were able to improve the overall quality of the neighborhoods and that helps our entire community.”
Dave Ervin, executive director of Rebuilding Together St. Louis, thanked Local 1 members for donating their skills for the day.
“These are life changing improvements,” he said. “We are grateful for the skills they donate and the quality of their installations.”
Since 2003, the Electrical Connection has donated labor and more than $875,000 in materials to improve more than 540 homes for low-income, disabled and elderly St. Louisans through the Rebuilding Together St. Louis program.