They are the second group of union volunteers to help in restoration efforts
By SHERI GASSAWAY
Pacific, MO – A second group of union volunteers has stepped up to lend a hand in restoration of the Historic First Baptist Church in Pacific, which was ravaged by the Meramec River twice in just 16 months.
On May 18, eight members of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 spent the day installing new plumbing at the church, including a water heater, sinks, toilets, a shower and all lines.
The effort was spearheaded by the Rockwood Labor Club, whose members organized the volunteers and sought donations from local unions and businesses to pay for the materials needed for the effort.
Rockwood Labor Club President Marty McClimens said the group learned about the church’s plight and need for help after reading an article in the Labor Tribune about a group of IBEW Local 1 members who recently had volunteered to rough-in the electric.
‘IT’S WHAT LABOR DOES’
“We saw the article and knew we had to get involved,” said McClimens, a journeyman Local 562 member and instructor at the union’s training school. “It’s what Labor does, and we were happy to do it. Being part of the community is who we are.”
The church, founded in 1874, is the oldest black church in the Pacific area and one of the oldest church buildings in Pacific. After the church was flooded in December 2015, volunteers restored the interior of the building and the annex building.
The congregation had services there for about 30 days and then the 2017 flood hit. After that, volunteers decided to elevate the historic church, which is located at 412 S. First St.
Norbert Gildehaus, co-chairman of the Save the First Baptist Church Committee, said he was overjoyed when he got the call from longtime friend and Local 562 Journeyman Steve Lindsley with the offer to help with the plumbing.
“Steve came out to the church and took some notes, and a week later he brought out a great group of guys and they got the job done,” Gildehaus said. “We couldn’t be more grateful. Their help made our goal of opening the church within a year much more realistic.”
Lindsley, also a member of the Rockwood Labor Club, grew up in Pacific with Brian Brocato, a journeyman IBEW Local 1 electrician who has volunteered several weekends with fellow Local 1 members at the church wiring the electric. Both union members know how important the church is to the local community.
“The response we’ve had to our call for help at the church has been overwhelming,” Brocato said. “What the Rockwood Labor Club and plumbers and pipefitters and electricians did was unbelievable. This project has really turned into something awesome.”
McClimens and Lindsley supervised the May 18 effort at the church, and Local 562 journeymen Don Gallo and Local 562 apprentices Bryan Dattoli, Mark Johnson, Brandon Weber, Sam Rolwes and Adam Matteson volunteered their expert skills.
Local 562 signatory contractors Bieg Plumbing Co., R. A. Guinner Plumbing Co. and Heggemann, Inc. donated service trucks and tools.
Six union locals, including UAW Region 5, UAW Local 2250, Local 562, Sprinkler Fitters Local 268, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 and Elevator Constructors Local 3, donated money for materials. Wholesale Plumbing Supply also donated some of the materials.
HELP IN THE REBUILDING EFFORT
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.