Union then donates $5,000 more to the church’s food pantry
By TIM ROWDEN
St. Trinity Lutheran Church, at the corner of Vermont and Koeln, is home of one of the largest food pantries in the south St. Louis, serving over 1,000 people each month with food, clothing and an after-school reading program, but they want to do more.
Pastor Dave Lewis said the church wanted to open its third-floor gymnasium for father-child basketball games and other activities, but the boiler and radiators in the nearly150-year old church had long since stopped working on that floor.
They needed help, and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 and its signatory contractors stepped up to provide it, donating labor and materials to replace the old boilers and pipes and install radiators in the gym free of charge as part of the Union’s annual Heat’s On program.
Local 562 signatory contractors Jarrell Mechanical Contracting, Murphy Company, Corrigan Company and Merten’s Heating and Cooling members donated materials, fabrications and manhours that would have totaled $80,000 for the project.
Union members volunteered their weekends to do the work.
INSULATORS, PAINTERS NEXT
Members of Insulators Local 1 will be coming in next to insulate the new pipes and Painters District Council 58 is donating time and materials to paint the facility.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, last Thursday, Nov. 14, when their initial work was completed, Local 562 wrote Pastor Lewis a $5,000 check to help the church’s food pantry, which helps more than 1,000 people a month, meet its needs through the holidays.
33 YEARS OF HELPING OTHERS
This marks the 33rd year of Local 562’s Heats On program, which has provided assistance to more than 11,000 needy families and elderly individuals free of charge.
“We’re happy we could do this to help this church and help this food pantry,” said Local 562 Assistant Business Manager Brian Nichols. “They help over 1,000 people a month. Think about that –– how many lives that touches.”
Truly. If you do the math, that’s about the same number of lives touched by Local 562’s Heat’s On program.
The project started a couple months ago when St. Louis Alderwoman Sarah Wood Martin saw a need for a pillar in the 11th Ward and asked Local 562 to help. Martin is married to Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Jake Hummel, a member of IBEW Local 1, and knew she could count on the area’s unions and their contractors to step up.
“This church hosts all sorts of community events. Pastor Dave never says ‘no.’ They go above and beyond with the food pantry. I know children show up, and the food pantry never lets them down.
“This is an example why we should support local contractors,” Martin said. “It’s very important that we invest in our community contractors and union labor because they certainly give back to the community. This is just one small piece of the pie when it comes to Local 562’s Heats on Program.”
Martin extended special thanks to Local 562 Journeyman Tom Madden, Director of Minority Recruitment Fred Searcy and Business Representative Michael Grady.
“I called them up and instantly they made it happen,” she said.
‘IMPORTANT TO THIS COMMUNITY’
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, thanked the Local 562 volunteers for their leadership and generosity.
“I think we all can tell here the size of hearts that all of you have,” Krewson said. “You’ve got things to do, you’ve got families, but you chose to come here, do all this piping in order to make this system work.
“I was here a couple of months ago for one of the neighborhood meetings that they have here. There were 200 people here, maybe more, really talking about what’s going on in the neighborhood. These are people who care deeply about their neighborhood and contribute to their neighborhood day in and day out,” Krewson said. “This is really important to this community. Having dads and kids playing basketball here, or wrestling or working on an art project, it helps all of these kids and these families live better lives and have the options that we all want for our families.”
‘NOT JUST PIPES AND HEAT, IT’S REAL PEOPLE’
“I can’t tell you, on behalf of St. Trinity folks and neighborhood folks, how excited we are to have you here and for this project,” Pastor Lewis said.
“We had this great space, particularly upstairs, that would be awesome for neighborhood kids and activities, but there was no heat. This time of year until about April it’s pretty much unusable. Sarah got word to the Pipefitters and they got word to local companies. These guys have been here five, six, seven times – always happy, smiling and working fixing the boiler and all the radiators. They got it all hooked up and the heat is working for the first time in a lot of years.
“A couple of years ago, we had some neighborhood dads who were looking for a place to play basketball and have a basketball game with their kids,” Lewis said. “That’s kind of one of the things we worked on is helping the dads to do that. They wanted to start in November, and they did. It was fun, but it was hard seeing these little eight-year-old kids up here basically wearing overcoats and trying to play basketball.
“I’m just grateful to all of you for the work that you’ve done and for all the pieces that came together on this,” he said. “It’s not just pipes and heat. It’s real people, real kids and real families. It’s real people. It’s not just the building.”