St. Louis City Labor Club members spruce up cafeteria at Gateway 180 family shelter

MAKEOVER – Members from the St. Louis City Labor Club and other union volunteers brightened up the dining room at Gateway 180 recently by adding new lights and ceiling fans and painting. – Tim Miller/Operating Engineers Local 513 photo

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Each month, Operating Engineers Local 513’s Tim Miller volunteers for the St. Ambrose Society, serving food at Gateway 180, a family shelter in St. Louis.

A while ago, he noticed how dark and dreary the dining area was and thought that with a few adjustments, it could be updated to help the agency serve their clients in a warm, welcoming environment.

Miller, a member of the St. Louis City Labor Club’s Executive Board, reached out to fellow board members Mike Newton, a business representative at IBEW Local 1, and Wendall Harris, a business representative at Painters District Council 58. They agreed to help and got the ball rolling.

“It looks just fantastic,” said Miller, a third generation Local 513 member. “The work really brightened things up in the dining area for the parents and their children when they enjoy their meals.”

ST. LOUIS CITY LABOR CLUB Recording Secretary James Jones, an IBEW Local 1 member, prepares to install a ceiling fan in the dining room at Gateway 180 family shelter in St. Louis. – Mike Newton/IBEW Local 1 photo

Newton and fellow IBEW Local 1 member James Jones, who serves as recording secretary for Local 1, installed three brand new ceiling fans and eight light fixtures, which were donated by Miller’s mother, Elizabeth Darrish who works at Amini’s in Chesterfield.

“Tim came up with the idea and coordinated the project,” Newton said. “He told us about the Gateway 180 program, and we jumped at the opportunity help. Alberici donated a scissor lift, so we were able to get the work done quickly.”

Harris used the scissor lift to paint the ceiling and enlisted the help of the Painters Job Corps. volunteers to paint the rest of the room. Another friend from Miller’s church agreed to hang brightly colored murals of the organization’s staff members.

“When people gather around a table for a meal, there should be joy,” said Miller, a 28-year Local 513 member. “I think we accomplished that just by updating a few things for the organization.”

Miller said he is planning several other service projects in the community that the St. Louis City Labor Club will be involved in.

“We have so many members willing to help,” Miller said. “My goal is to do as much work in the community as possible in hopes of opening people’s eyes as to what unionism and the Brotherhood is all about.”

Kathy Connors, Gateway 180 executive director, said the team did an awesome job and that the organization was grateful to the Labor unions for their donation of hard work, time and skills. She said on any given day, meals are provided to a minimum of 120 women, children, and family members.

“The much-needed makeover ensures a bright, friendly, uplifting space in which families can break bread and share a meal, as well as now to find hope, dignity and respect,” she said. “It truly shows the commitment of our local labor unions to the well-being of vulnerable members of our community and to the well-being of our local community.”

Gateway 180 is one of Missouri’s largest family shelters on a mission to empower its clients to become permanently housed. For more information, visit

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