IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection donates electrical services to repair 20 St. Louis low income homes

20th Year for IBEW/NECA Partnership Service to Rebuilding Together St. Louis

The lights had been flickering in Dennis Wisniewski’s Arnold home for quite some time. But the 64-year-old Army veteran had a lot on his plate, raising grandchildren and struggling with his lawn care business.

Meanwhile, in Jennings, Mo., Army veteran Thomas Donelson is on disability with more than enough challenges in his life, including a home with faulty wiring.

Both were among 20 low-income residents in the region who received donated electrical repairs from the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership. The partnership is comprised of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

The donated repairs were part of the annual Rebuilding Together St. Louis home repair blitz. On April, 22, more than 200 IBEW Local 1 electricians and 22 NECA and IBEW-signatory contractors fanned out to make the repairs, including the homes of Wisniewski and Donelson. It was the 20th year that the Labor-management partnership helped Rebuilding Together St. Louis improve lives in low-income homes in St. Louis city and county.

‘SIMPLY OVERWHELMED’
“I was simply overwhelmed that IBEW/NECA wanted to help me,” said Wisniewski. “I have no pension, just social security, my wife died four years ago and I’m raising two grandchildren and trying to keep a lawn care business going. I have no time and not enough resources for electrical repairs.” Wisniewski’s 60-year-old home had lights flickering, exposed wall sockets and wires, an outdated fuse box and other issues. All were repaired by the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection at no charge.

Donelson’s more than 80-year-old Jennings home was full of electrical hazards including exposed wires and open junction boxes.

“I’ve been through a lot in life,” said the 59-year-old Donelson. “When I heard that IBEW/NECA was going to do the repairs for free, I was jumping up and down on my driveway and praising God.”

Donelson had lost his two-year-old son tragically when in was in the service 34 years ago. He had been shot after he moved back to St. Louis and was on disability, raising three daughters.

‘IT TAKES A LOT OF PLANNING’
“It takes a lot of planning and work to mobilize an army of our workforce and electrical contractors, but it is well worth the effort when you see the reaction of the people we serve,” noted Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1.

In addition to fixing electrical hazards, the IBEW/NECA partnership also installed new lighting, ceiling fans and other fixtures.

“We’ll encounter low-income homes with hazardous conditions that can cause electrical fires,” noted Kyle McKenna, executive vice president, St. Louis Chapter NECA. “They are very often hidden dangers such as exposed wires behind walls, overtaxed circuits and circuit panels that were improperly installed or ‘repaired’ by an amateur. Electrical safety is paramount for our contractors and workforce who build to code. Never rely on the unskilled to perform any kind of electrical repairs in your home.”

Since 2003, the Electrical Connection has donated more than $2.3 million in labor and materials to improve more that 585 homes for low-income, disabled and elderly St. Louisans.

Rebuilding Together St. Louis has provided free home repairs in the St. Louis area for 30 years, focusing on projects that improve homeowners’ safety, health, and independence.

“We are grateful to the IBEW Local 1 and NECA partnership and it’s dedication to helping Rebuilding Together improve safety and living conditions for the residents we serve,” said Elaine Powers, executive director, Rebuilding Together St. Louis.

GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
“We’re just giving back to the community,” said Local 1 Residential Business Representative Chris Clermont, who spearheaded the event. “The members have been doing this for quite a while. They know what it means not only to the homeowners but to themselves. When you make the repairs and help the homeowners and you see the smiles on their faces, it’s gratifying. They really appreciate it. We  just do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

The Electrical Connection represents the largest number of licensed commercial and residential electrical contractors and skilled electricians in the region with a searchable data base at www.electricalconnection.org.

Electrical Connection, NECA and IBEW signatory contractors who donated service trucks and tools in the Rebuilding Together effort this year included:

  • American Electric & Data
  • Bell Electrical
  • BRK Electrical Contractors
  • Burris Electric
  • Grasser Electric
  • Guarantee Electrical Contractors
  • J Bathe Electric
  • Jarrell Contracting
  • JCS Electric
  • JF Electric
  • K & O Electric
  • Kaemmerlen Electric
  • Liberty Electric
  • M. R. Bathe Electric
  • Nooter Construction
  • PayneCrest Electric
  • RJP Electric
  • rYse Electric
  • Sachs Electric Co.
  • Schaeffer Electric
  • TD4, LLC
  • X-Cell Electric

 

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