This month, when IBEW delegates and guests arrive in St. Louis for the 39th International Convention, they’ll find a new event on their agendas.
|Jacksonville, Fla., Local 177 RENEW members helped to wire a Beaches Habitat for Humanity house in their community in April of this year.
For the first time at an International Convention, hundreds of brothers and sisters from across the U.S. and Canada will give back to their host community with an IBEW Day of Service, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15.
“The city of St. Louis is where this great union was founded,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, “and it’s only right that we try and give back to a city that has given so much to us.”
The service projects will take place across the city at 26 sites that primarily serve lower-income communities. Where possible, host organizations will take advantage of the unique skills IBEW members bring to the table, said International Representative Adrian Sauceda, who is organizing the effort.
“We’ve got homeless shelters that have extension cords running all over their buildings because the outlets don’t work and community centers that need new light fixtures, switches and breakers,” Sauceda said. “These aren’t places that can afford the kind of skilled trades that our members can offer them, so we’re trying to do a lot of work that other volunteers might not be able to take on.”
The IBEW and Day of Service sponsors – the Bank of Labor, Milwaukee Tools, and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – are providing the materials, and convention delegates and guests will volunteer their time and labor.
Volunteers will also work on park beautification, neighborhood cleanups, building picnic tables and helping out at food banks, youth and women’s shelters and more. One group of volunteers will serve a meal for paralyzed veterans in the area.
“To be doing this for the first time at an International Convention is really an opportunity for us to show this community what the IBEW is all about,” said Eleventh District Vice President Curt Henke, whose district includes the state of Missouri. “Unions are about giving back and helping lift people up, so this day of service is an important part of that, and we’re proud it’s happening here.”
Sauceda, who has organized events like this in the past for the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, hopes delegates and guests get as much out of the experience as those they’ll be helping. “It’s a great feeling to be able to give back like this and to show that the IBEW cares about people who are having a hard time.”
Delegates and guests coming early to the convention are strongly encouraged to sign up for the IBEW Day of Service through the convention registration page so that organizers can plan T-shirts and lunch.
Registration on the morning of Sept. 15 begins at 6:30 a.m. on the second floor of the America’s Center Convention hall in rooms 230-232. Registration is required to board buses that will begin leaving for worksites at 7 a.m.
Service projects will last roughly until noon, at which time volunteers will be transported back to the convention center for lunch. Participants posting photos to social media are encouraged to use the hashtag, #IBEWDOS2016.
“We’re excited to be doing this for the first time in St. Louis,” Stephenson said, “and we hope everyone who is in town will sign up early and come participate on the 15th. We think it’s going to be a great way to kick off an important convention week.”
The 39th IBEW International Convention opens on Sept. 19, and IBEW.org will cover pre-convention events starting Sept. 15 and running through the closing gavel on Sept. 23.
Note: Day of Service Volunteers who have experience as inside wiremen are asked to bring along a few hand tools, if possible (kleins, screwdrivers, small channel-locks, etc.), to help with changing out light fixtures, installing electrical outlets and switches.