IBEW Local 1 members, contractors team with Rebuilding Together to provide free electrical updates for St. Louis homeowners in need

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SHARING THEIR EXPERTISE, IBEW Local 1 journeyman James McEvoy (left) and apprentice Charles Thompson prepare to switch out a ceiling fan in Navy veteran Arthur Cole’s home as part of the Electrical Connection/Rebuilding Together St. Louis partnership to provide free electrical updates for St. Louis homeowners in need . – Labor Tribune photo

St. Louis – Navy veteran Arthur Cole and his wife Martha have lived in their home on Ferris Avenue here for 50 years. The Coles, both retired, have tried their best to keep up with repairs, but living on a fixed income has made it difficult.

Fortunately, the Coles recently 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.

On April 20, a team of 12 Local 1 electricians spent the morning updating the electric in the house, which still had its original wiring. They added a new electrical panel, three new ceiling fans, several new lights and new switches, outlets and wiring.

“I’m amazed and grateful for the program and to everybody here helping to get the work done,” Arthur Cole said. “My wife and I are both retired and disabled, and there’s no way we could afford the updates. Some of these switches haven’t worked in years.”

The Cole’s house was one of 15 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 200 Local 1 electricians and 18 NECA contractors helped with the effort.

James McEvoy, a nine-year journeyman with Local 1 who works for Diversified Electric, was one of the electricians who worked on the Cole’s home.

“It’s a good day to give back to the community,” McEvoy said. “More of this work needs to be done to help people. It’s good for the soul.”

Local 1 Business Representative Tim Cleveland, also a Navy veteran, spearheaded the half-day event. The Local 1 members met for breakfast at the Local 1 hall before getting their assignments and fanning out to do the work.

“Our goal is to interact with the communities in which we work and live and to make sure elderly, disabled and low-income families can stay in their homes,” he said. “I’m astounded with the turnout and honored that so many Local 1 members were willing to help. It truly gives you a sense of pride in what we can accomplish together.”

Stacey Hagar, a spokesperson for Rebuilding Together, addressed the crowd before they headed out.

“This is so impressive,” she said as she looked around the room. “We are grateful for your help and thankful to Tim for organizing the event.”

Senator Karla May (D-St. Louis) also expressed her gratitude during the breakfast. Many of the homes repaired were in her district.

“I am so appreciative for your commitment  and willingness to give back to the community,” she said. “We have so many seniors and other people who need your skill set.”

Since 2003, the Electrical Connection has donated more than $2.3 million in labor and materials to improve more than 600 homes for low-income, disabled, and elderly St. Louisans. Last month, the St. Louis Business Journal saluted the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection with an Innovation in Philanthropy Award for the team effort.

In his address to the volunteers, St. Louis Chapter NECA Executive Vice President Kyle McKenna said, “This remarkable achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of each and every one of you in this room, and I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have generously donated your time this Saturday to help those in need.”

For more information on the Electrical Connection, visit electricalconnection.org. To learn more about Rebuilding Together St. Louis, go to rebuildingtogether-stl.org.

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