July 2011

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Lending a Helping Hand to the Homeless

Members from Gulfport, Miss., Local 903 volunteered to wire a shelter for homeless women and children.

"We try to help out as much as possible," said Local 903 Business Manager Curtis Murphy. "At a city council meeting a request for volunteers was made to help with renovations for a new homeless shelter."

Local 903 covered the cost of the wiring while three members working for signatory Crews Electric Co. supplied the manpower for the shelter that opened May 12.

The Moss Point shelter, which provides temporary quarters for homeless women and their children, was a former city building that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

Local 903 members also support the community by working regularly with Habitat for Humanity.

High School Girls Explore Careers in Nuclear Energy

For the second year in a row, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Local 37 demonstrated its strong support for promoting the many career possibilities in trades and technology by sponsoring and participating in the 2010 New Brunswick Skills Networking Dinners for Young Women.

The dinners, hosted by the New Brunswick Chapter of Women in Nuclear, are designed to bring female students from grades nine through 12 together to learn from professional female mentors, many of whom are Local 37 members who work in non-traditional fields such as electrical technology, chemical technology, instrumentation, power engineering, welding, pipefitting and nuclear security, among others.

"I wish that I had something like this back in my day," says Bernice Lanagan, a 20-year Local 37 member who works as a chemical technologist at NB Power's Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station and chairs the province's 46-member chapter of Women in Nuclear. The chapter also sponsors educational activities for young people on Earth Day.

Young girls often don't have contacts or know anyone in the trades, says Lanagan."We don't want them to limit themselves in any way, and want them to know that by keeping up their math and sciences, they will open up all kinds of wonderful and exciting career opportunities."

Many students come to the dinner and then go away saying, "I can do this," says Lanagan. With a slow job market for university graduates and nearly full employment for women in the trades, the skills dinners can be the first step up the economic ladder for more New Brunswick residents.

Dressed for work and joining Lanagan at the dinner were Local 37 members Nora Walsh and Cricky Smith, who work as nuclear security officers, and Stacey Kane, a member of the nuclear response force team.

Founded in 1993, Women in Nuclear currently has around 2,500 members in 68 countries. For more information, visit: www.win-global.org/about.htm.

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Local 37 members Nora Walsh, left, Cricky Smith and Stacey Kane discuss their training and responsibilities at the Point Lepreau nuclear plant.

Caribbean Diary: Retiree Reflects on Peace Corps Experience

Detroit Local 58 retiree David Nedwick and his wife took on the challenge of a lifetime when they joined the Peace Corps and headed to St. Kitts, one of the poorest countries in the Eastern Caribbean.

Almost two years later and at the end of their term of service, David and Ingrid count among their accomplishments spearheading ecological and environmental projects, offering a helping hand at a local orphanage and schools in the village of Middletown. They have also helped to restore a historical site and collaborated on HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

"As they say in the Peace Corps, it is the hardest work you'll ever love," David said.

The idea of becoming Peace Corps volunteers appealed to the Nedwicks after reading an article about positive experiences of other seniors who joined. According to the American Peace Corps Web site, 7 percent of volunteers are over the age of 50.

"After a couple years into retirement I realized I was not ready to hang up my boots so after some deliberation and being of sound mind and body with lots of energy to spare, we decided to apply for the Peace Corps," said David, who is a 48-year IBEW member who travelled to Arizona, California, and Alaska during his career.

St. Kitts is on the eastern edge of a string of tropical islands blessed with natural beauty and challenged by poverty, lack of comprehensive public health program and a high rate of HIV/AIDS. With a population of 35,000, St. Kitts is increasingly dependent on tourism.

Their initial weeks on St. Kitts staying with a local family set the tone for the remainder of the Nedwicks' assignment on the island. "This family opened their home, introduced us to neighbors, new foods, customs and a new dialect. They truly made us feel welcome," David said. "This feeling of hospitality and welcome has carried through our entire time in St. Kitts."

In honor of Earth Day April 22, the Nedwicks coordinated the cleanup of a local cemetery that had become an informal dump. By the end of the day, a dumpster brought in for the event was full of household appliances, bottles and cans, pieces of old metal roof and household trash.

"While these moments are so rewarding and we are making some headway, there is still a lot to do," Nedwick said. He and Ingrid, a freelance interior designer and architect, will leave their assignment in October and return to the United States to spend time with their three grown sons and five grandchildren.

David is interested in whether other IBEW members have participated in the Peace Corps. He asks that people interested in sharing their stories e-mail him at dnedwick@gmail.com.

Detroit Local 58 retiree David Nedwick, with his wife Ingrid, at the 2011 Peace Corps Day in Independence Square, St. Kitts, a Caribbean island.