By SHERI GASSAWAY
When Laborers’ Local 42 President Rich McLaughlin learned that demolition work was needed at a Ferguson church pegged to become a new women’s care center, he knew just what to do: he put out a call for help to his members.
On Oct. 21, McLaughlin, nine other Local 42 members, signatory Local 42 contractor CMT, Inc. President and CEO Cory Elliot and several friends and family members joined forces at 107 Carson Road to remove floor tile, carpet, cabinets and stair risers, wipe and scrape walls and vacuum debris.
‘MADE US FEEL GOOD TO HELP’
“We really try to do as much as we can for the community throughout the year,” McLaughlin said. “We do demo work, and I knew we could get some people together. I also knew we needed extra tools, so I called Cory. We had a blast and got so much done. It really made us feel good to help out.”
The new women’s care center is a project being coordinated by All Among Us, Inc., a non-profit organization that builds meaningful relationships with the homeless and single moms living in poverty and provides relief by gathering, purchasing and distributing food, clothing and personal items.
All Among Us President and Executive Director Cathryn Shaw said Zion Lutheran Church of Ferguson donated its “Little Church” to the organization to house the new women’s care center. However, she said the historical church, which was built in 1927, will need extensive renovations.
Shaw had nothing but praise for McLaughlin and the Local 42 members who helped during demolition day at the new center.
IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
“With Rich, I feel like an angel has dropped down from heaven, and he and his members are with us for the long haul,” she said. “Everyone who left the site that day asked me to let them know what I need in the future.”
Shaw said the work the group donated put her organization ahead of schedule by two months. She added that McLaughlin has introduced her to several other union contractors that have agreed to volunteer at the center and/or provide it with discounted products and services.
“Rich has gone above and beyond for us, which will help in cutting our expenses in half for the construction phase,” she said. “We’re probably saving about $200,000.”
THE NEW CENTER
The women’s care center is expected to open in March 2018 and will offer space for 16 at-risk women to stay for up to six months, Shaw said. The center will provide help for women who may have lost a job and their car broke down, young girls aging out of the foster care system and those who have experienced sexual or physical trauma.
The women will be provided with food, shelter, advocacy, relationships and a sense of community as well as five hours of programming each day, focusing on financial literacy, workforce readiness, life skills and housing assistance, she said. The center will remain in contact with the women to provide support for three years.
PASSION FOR HOMELESS OUTREACH
Shaw has been serving the chronically homeless for 10 years. When she worked in downtown St. Louis, she would pass men and women living on the street every day. In 2007, she started visiting a couple who lived on a dock near her office building and decided to help. That was the beginning of her passion for homeless outreach.
Since then, dozens of friends, family members and other volunteers have rolled up their sleeves to help her in her mission. In 2016, Shaw quit her job to focus on serving people in poverty full time, and that December, All Among Us, Inc. became an official not-for-profit organization.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The new women’s care center is a separate program that will be offered by All Among Us in addition to the organization’s work with the homeless. For more information or to donate, visit allamongusinc.com.