When the Gines family had to move out of their home because of its dilapidated state, they weren’t expecting to get a renovation out of it, but thanks to Denver Local 68 members and others in the Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council, that’s just what happened.
Denver Local 68 members were part of a community-wide effort to renovate the home of a family with eight special needs children.
“As soon as we heard about their situation, we wanted to help,” said Local 68 Business Manager Jeremy Ross. “Something had to be done and we wanted to be part of it.”
Local 68 learned of the family through county commissioner Chaz Tedesco who reached out to the Building Trades for help. The family of 10 includes eight children with special needs. One daughter has cancer and is currently in the hospital. Another sibling is on dialysis after having had two kidney transplants.
“They had more than their hands full,” Ross said.
The Gines inherited their home from the mother’s parents, but it was in need of major repairs. There was rodent damage, the electrical wasn’t up to code, a sewer line broke in the basement. Eventually the county determined the house was no longer safe to live in. It would essentially need to be demolished and rebuilt. That’s when the Building Trades and others in the community stepped in to help.
“When you see someone who needs a home, and that’s in our wheelhouse, you give them a helping hand,” Ross said.
Signatory contractor Sturgeon Electric donated materials and will handle the service change. The Labor Management Cooperation Committee pledged up to $10,000 as well, Ross said. Once the family is able to move back in, they will have an entirely new electrical system, from service to switches, complete with tamper-proof outlets.
“I would like to thank Jeremy and all the officers of 68 for their leadership, but most importantly I would like to thank and commend these members of Local 68 for showing their community just what Brotherhood means,” said Eighth District International Vice President Jerry Bellah. “I am so proud of the way they have represented their local and the entire IBEW. “
There has also been an outpouring of support from the greater Denver community, reported the local ABC affiliate Denver 7. While the family initially had to separate, with some children moving in with relatives and others staying with their parents in a motel, they’ve since been reunited and are staying in an apartment until the renovation is complete. Donations from the community have helped cover their costs.
Asbestos issues have delayed the project, but Ross said they should be done early this year. Among those helping from Local 68 are members of the local’s RENEW committee, the IBEW’s initiative to engage younger members of the union.
“RENEW has been great through all this,” Ross said. “Someone has stepped up practically every time we’ve asked.”
The committee got started around spring of 2019 and have done trunk-or-treat events for Halloween, installed lights at a group home and volunteered at a women’s shelter.
“They’ve really been on a tear,” Ross said. “Young people with a bunch of young energy is a great asset to have.”
Ross says that Local 68’s 2,000 inside construction members have been deemed essential in terms of coronavirus restrictions. And they know how fortunate that makes them.
“When you have opportunity, you have an obligation,” Ross said. “Helping a family in need is part of that.”