The Electrical Worker online
May 2017

From the Officers
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The IBEW's Giving Spirit

I've been blessed to be the international president of this great union for almost two years now, and nearly every day I hear a story about all the good our sisters and brothers across the U.S. and Canada are doing in their communities.

In this issue, you've read some incredible stories about our members. Dave Amalfitano, a brother from Wilmington, Del., Local 313 needed a kidney, so he put out a call for help that was answered by a complete stranger, Brother Rob Vargas, a first-year apprentice at Local 9 in Chicago. It's an unbelievable act of compassion for a fellow member, and for me, the ultimate act of brotherhood.

At Local 716 in Houston, you read about Brother Tim Tsotsonis, who is back at work at 71 after taking a 22-year break to care for a son with cerebral palsy. Today, Tim rides his bike hundreds of miles to raise money for devastating illnesses like the one that affects his family.

And in these same pages, we told the story of volunteers from Hutchinson, Kan., Local 661, who put their electrical skills to use, helping to renovate the homes of veterans in need. Without their skills and their generosity, those houses might not have been completed.

But their stories, while they stand out, are just a small fraction of the good work the members of this union do every day. RENEW/NextGen chapters from one side of North America to the other are pitching in around their communities, raising money for cancer and packing school supplies for needy kids. Members of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus gather each year, and in smaller groups in between, to fan out across cities, doing whatever work is needed to bring opportunity to communities that need it most. And local unions are opening their doors, providing much-needed space and volunteers for charitable organizations that work on issues our members care about.

Programs we support, like the Union Sportsmen's Alliance's Work Boots on the Ground, are working to preserve North America's natural resources so generations to come can enjoy the same great outdoors that we're able to today. And when veterans return home from overseas, Helmets to Hardhats and efforts by individual IBEW locals help put them to work, giving our returning heroes access to lifelong careers, not just jobs.

These examples only scratch the surface of the good works IBEW brothers and sisters are doing in their hometowns, and I'm proud that giving back is a vital part of who we are as a union. These are the communities that put us to work, that lift us up when we need a hand, and the good-heartedness of our members doesn't go unrecognized.

We have a lot at the IBEW to hold our heads high about, but the generosity of our members is right up there at the top. I'm proud of the work you do, and I'm honored to be your brother.


Also: Chilia: See You on the Next Big One Read Chilia's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President