By SHERI GASSAWAY
Pine Lawn – After eight months of work, a 100-year-old home here is ready to open its doors to provide transitional housing for women thanks to countless hours of repairs and improvements and some major donations by local union members, union contractors and friends of Labor.
The home, which sat vacant for some time, was gifted to Cathy “Mama Cat” Daniels, the founder of PotBangerz – Feed the Body Mission. The non-profit organization’s goal is to uplift the community by meeting nutritional needs and helping unhoused families find permanent housing.
Late last year, Kevin FitzGerald, a Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1 retiree, put out a call for help and the Labor community came through in a big way. FitzGerald, along with Glaziers Local 513 retiree Brian Stiens and Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 retiree Don Moushey, led the project and worked at the home on a daily basis.
‘YOU CAN FEEL THE LOVE’
“The love and kindness they showed for this project was just past amazing,” Daniels said. “Each brought their whole heart into it. It’s one thing to see pictures of the house, but when you walk in, you can feel the love. They made the impossible possible.”
The renovation included major cleanup efforts in and around the house, the installation of a sump pump, flooring, windows and ceiling fans, the replacement of the home’s HVAC system and water heater, complete bathroom remodels, painting, personal touches, and much more.
SO MANY TO THANK
FitzGerald estimated the cost of materials at more than $30,000, but says the volunteer labor from skilled tradesmen was invaluable. He made a point of personally thanking Moushey and Stiens on his Facebook page.
“Brian and Don worked at the home four to five days a week – all day – for eight months, and they’ve donated their own money for the project,” FitzGerald said.
“There are so many folks to thank,” he added. “Especially the union members, contractors and Labor allies who donated their time, talent and materials. It’s so much more than a house.”
Some of those union members, contractors and friends of Labor included:
- Charlie Reiter, Tilesetters Local 18 instructor, and Local 18 apprentices Corbin Pierce, Avery Holloway and Zach Sevcik.
- Chris Brunnert, of Sheet Metal Workers Local 36.
- Eric Moore, area director at Workers United Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board.
- Glenn Farmer and Morton Todd, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 retirees.
- Jim Reinheimer, IBEW Local 1 president.
- John Stiffler, St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council secretary-treasurer.
- Lauren O’Connor, FitzGerald’s daughter and a Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 apprentice.
- Mike Marquardt, of Teamsters Local 688.
- Vernon Schlemmer, a Glazier 513 retiree.
- Ozark Mechanical, a Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 contractor, and York, which donated the furnace.
- R and F Tile and Marble, a Tilesetters Local 18 contractor.
- Cindy Berne, a Labor-endorsed candidate who recently ran for the Missouri House seat in District 106, and her employer, Lowe’s.
- Kenny Biermann, a longtime friend-of-Labor and member of the Tri-County Labor Club.
- Coalition of Labor Union Women–St. Louis Chapter.
CISGENDER, QUEER, TRANSGENDER WOMEN
Specifically, the home will provide transitional housing for cisgender, queer and transgender women because there is a growing number of women in those groups on the street, Daniels said.
Mildred Clines, a human rights activist, gave the home to Daniels. It is called “Mildred’s Casa de Paz,” which stands for Mildred’s House of Peace.
Daniels said she hopes to have a dedication ceremony at the house in early September to thank all the volunteers. Meanwhile, her group is accepting cash and new home décor for the house.
To donate, contact Daniels at 757-897-5212 or send your contribution via PayPal to email@example.com.