IBEW Local 1 members lend hand to restore Historic Baptist church in Pacific

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Local 1 signatory contractor RJP Electric donates service trucks, tools

By SHERI GASSAWAY
Correspondent

SAVING HISTORY: After the Historic First Baptist Church in Pacific faced the raging waters of the Meramec River for a second time in just 16 months, the first order of business was to raise the church. Now several IBEW Local 1 members are donating their time wiring the building for electric. – Labor Tribune photo

Pacific, MO – When Dan Brocato, a 33-year member of IBEW Local 1, learned from his childhood friend Norbert Gildehaus that the Historic First Baptist Church in Pacific had flooded for a second time in just 16 months, he knew he had to get involved.

The church, founded in 1874, is the oldest black church in the Pacific area and one of the oldest church buildings in Pacific.

The first call Dan Brocato made was to his nephew Brian Brocato, a 25-year member of Local 1 who works at RJP Electric. Brian Brocato explained the need for assistance to the owners at RJP, and the Local 1 signatory contractor agreed to donate trucks and tools for the electrical restoration effort.

The Brocatos then reached out to their Local 1 brothers and sisters for help. The Brocatos, both originally from Pacific, and Bob Williams, a 30-year IBEW Local 1 member, spent Saturday, April 6, roughing in the electric at the church. It was the third Saturday in a row the group volunteered at the church.

‘THE RIGHT THING TO DO’

LONGTIME IBEW LOCAL 1 MEMBERS, Dan Brocato (standing) and Bob Williams, spent Saturday, April 6, roughing in electric at the Historic First Baptist Church in Pacific. The two Local 1 members have a combined 63 years of experience. – Labor Tribune photo
BRIAN BROCATO, a 25-year IBEW Local 1 member, works on an electrical outlet at the historic church. Brocato’s employer, signatory Local 1 contractor RJP Electric, is donating service trucks and tools for the job. – Labor Tribune photo

“We’ve got about a dozen more Saturdays of work here,” said Brian Brocato. “I’ve helped out here and there with other charitable efforts, but nothing of this scale. You try to help people out when you can. Local 1 has always done that. It’s the right thing to do.”

Gildehaus, Dan Brocato’s childhood friend, owns a business across the street from the church, which is located at 412 S. First St. He also serves as co-chairman of the Save the First Baptist Church Committee.

Gildehaus said that after the flood in December 2015, volunteers completely restored the interior of the building and the annex building.

FLOOD OF 2017
“They had service there for about 30 days and then the 2017 flood hit,” Gildehaus said. “It’s an aging congregation, and the church has a lot of history so a group of us just got together to help them out.”

So far, the committee has raised $80,000 for restoration efforts through raffles, poker runs, barbecues, trivia nights and guest bartender nights, he said. The hope is that the church will be open within a year.

TO HELP
If you would like to volunteer to help rebuild the church or donate materials or cash, call Gildehaus at 314-280-2063 or visit the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Save-The-Historic-First-Baptist-Church-Project-1988150694804716/.


 

 

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