Of all the things that enthuse American teenagers, you wouldn't expect new textbooks to be high on the list.
|Boston Local 103 delivered new textbooks in January to grateful students and staff in the electrical program at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute. Business Agent Kenell Broomstein, a graduate of the program, holds one of the books in the front row. Next to her is Lynn Mayor Tom McGee, who thanked the local for supporting and inspiring a new generation of electricians.
But students in the electrical program at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute were elated in January when Boston Local 103 representatives surprised them with up-to-code textbooks and donations of fire-resistant clothing.
“You couldn’t believe the smiles on these kids’ faces,” said Local 103 Business Agent David O’Laughlin. “I heard one girl say, ‘It’s great to see that the union cares about us.’”
His fellow business agent, Kenell Broomstein, is a 2004 Lynn Tech alumna and occasional guest in her old classroom. “I go back there on my own to talk, and I could tell how excited they were,” she said.
Local 103 partners with Lynn Tech and other vocational high schools in the greater Boston area to mentor budding electricians and to provide scholarships to the local’s apprenticeship program.
“It’s really become our mission to get every business agent, every officer and every member of Local 103 involved in the communities where we live,” Business Manager Lou Antonellis said. “We have a great relationship with Lynn Voc Tech, as well as the mayor, so when we heard that books were needed, it was a no-brainer for us.”
From building Habitat for Humanity houses and lighting public holiday displays to toy drives and coat collections, Antonellis said, “When they call Local 103, we come to the plate.”
The local wrote a $4,800 check for 60 residential wiring textbooks current to 2017 code. And O’Laughlin went a step further upon learning that vandals had broken into the school and destroyed a fire-resistant suit used as a teaching tool. Rather than replace the demonstration apparel, he asked a contractor to donate fire-resistant shirts and pants for students to wear.
Among those on hand when he and Broomstein presented the books and clothing Jan. 22 was Lynn, Mass., Mayor Thomas McGee. He told the city’s Daily Item newspaper that the school is “building real leaders,” and thanked Local 103 for providing resources that help the students succeed.
For Broomstein, whose father was also a Lynn Tech graduate, helping the students is a chance to give back. “Every day I think about where I would be without the school and without the local,” she said.
An African-American woman who was the only female in the electrical program’s 2004 class, Broomstein hopes to inspire more girls and minority students to pursue vocational careers. And she sees progress: Four girls are in the program’s sophomore class this year.
“It’s important for them to physically see and hear from diverse people in our trade who have succeeded in the industry,” Broomstein said. She said she also stresses the opportunities they will have as IBEW members.
She and O’Laughlin said they won’t forget the students’ gratitude for the local’s gifts, and what it means.
“It tells me that they’re eager to learn and interested in being electricians,” O’Laughlin said. “They’re the future of our country, our industry and our union.”