Labor’s contributions recognized at dedication of new Arnold Food Pantry

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Roger Horn (left), president of the Arnold Food Pantry Board of Directors, and Bart Velasco, president of the Jefferson County Labor Club hold a framed edition of the Labor Tribune featuring a story highlighting labor’s contribution to the food pantry renovation project. The story will hang in a place of prominence in the food pantry and thrift story so everyone who visits will know what labor did to make the pantry a reality. – Labor Tribune photo

By TIM ROWDEN

Sr. Staff Writer

Arnold – Labor’s contributions to the renovation of the Arnold Food Pantry and Thrift store’s new location at 2024 Key West Drive were recognized during a recent dedication ceremony.

Local labor leaders and rank and file union members were surprised not only with plaques and banners to commemorate their involvement in the renovation but one of the food pantry’s vans was permanently decorated with  the logo of every union that participated in the massive project.

The Jefferson County Labor Club’s emblem is displayed on the van in a tribute for the $280,000 in volunteer labor and donated materials that went into the pantry and thrift store’s renovation.

“A lot of work went into this place,” Jefferson County Labor Club President Bart Velasco said. “It’s a testament to the craftsmen that worked here and the work they installed. It’s just our way of giving back to the community.

“We try to support all the groups in Jefferson County – from Pony Bird (the home for developmentally disabled, nonambulatory children and adults in Mapaville) to Ride on St. Louis (the equine-assisted activities and therapies center serving disabled children, adults and the at-risk youth in Kimmswick) to the BackStoppers – and labor has always donated their time to trying to support the food pantries in the area,” Velasco said.

GIVING BACK

The new 12,000-square-foot building is nearly twice the size of the pantry’s former location at 25 Village Plaza in Arnold.

The pantry purchased the building, knowing it would need renovation, earlier this year. The pantry’s goal was to raise $450,000 in cash and in-kind donations to renovate and pay off the building in eight years.

Labor made it possible to reach $280,000 of that goal in record time.

“We could not be here today celebrating what we’ve done without the labor guys and gals who stepped forward,” President of the Arnold Food Pantry Board of Directors Roger Horn said.

Local unions donated labor, cash and coordinated donations of materials from their affiliate contractors to renovate the former warehouse distribution center as the new location for the pantry and thrift store.

“I’ve supported labor all my life because I know what they do in the community,” Horn said. “For them to come in here and do the work that they did, when almost everybody who did that work is unemployed right now, I think says something about the character of the people in the labor unions. It says something about the labor unions that they step forward to help people.”

Unions and contractors that helped in the effort included IBEW Local 1, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis, Floor Layers Local 1310, Painters and Allied Trades District Council 2, Laborers Local 110, Operating Engineers Local 513, Communications Workers of America Local 6300, Arnold Printing, Larry Bast Construction Company, Budrovich Excavating, De Soto Ozark Electric, Scott Lee Heating and Cooling, Sauder Plumbing, Bussen Quarries Inc., Pace Construction, Warren Sign Company, Waste Management Company.

GIVING IN MANY WAYS

Among their contributions, the St. Louis Electrical Connection – a partnership of IBEW Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) – donated $15,000 for electrical renovations at the pantry, secured fixtures and material and provided labor for a total contribution worth of roughly $40,000, Business Agent for IBEW Local 1 Dave Stanley said.

Warren Sign Co., and IBEW affiliate in Arnold, donated roughly $25,000 worth of signage for the building, including one large sign on the roof that is visible from Highway 141.

Working through their contractors and vendors, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 donated roughly $43,000 worth of new equipment and donated labor to the food pantry, including two new five-ton air-conditioning units and two 90 percent efficiency furnace and duct work, Business Representative Tom Leonard said.

Dave Doerr, business agent and director of services for the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 2, coordinated donations of paint, drywall and other materials and the skilled labor to do the work.

Other contributions included plumbing fixtures, flooring, trim, insulation, asphalt for the parking lot, and many other materials and hours of union labor both from journeymen and apprentices, who used the project as part of their training.

‘NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE’

“What labor did for this food pantry, there’s no words to describe,” said Arnold Ward 3 City Councilman Phil Amato, a member of the Jefferson County Labor Club and the food pantry’s board of directors. “There were trucks pulling up to this place like taxi cabs at the Waldorf Astoria. They would say, per whatever business rep they had talked to, ‘We’re supposed to bring this by.’ ”

WHAT THEY DO

The Arnold Food Pantry is the largest non-denominational food pantry in the St. Louis area and services residents of Arnold, Imperial and unincorporated Fenton, providing food and personal care items to about 150 families a week – all without any money from city, county, state or federal sources.

Arnold Food Pantry Director Kathy Flanigan, was at a loss for words in trying to describe just how much labor had done for the pantry and the communities it serves.

“It’s just awesome to see the whole community come together to make this pantry what it is.” Flanigan said. “To know where we came from and to have such a beautiful building, I don’t have the words to describe it.”

YOU CAN GIVE

The food pantry’s capital campaign is continuing. To donate, just visit www.wefeedthehungry.org or call the food pantry at (636) 467-5959 for more information.

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