Members of Syracuse, N.Y., Local 43 volunteered their services for the United Way's Day of Caring, one of many events the local participates in. "Our members get a deep sense of pride from giving back," Business Manager Al Marzullo said.

Members of Syracuse, N.Y., Local 43 are making a big difference in their community, from providing much-needed electrical upgrades for a local nonprofit to a high-profile role in a charity golf outing.

Our members love to give back," Local 43 Business Manager Al Marzullo said. "And when it comes to our children, we'll do whatever we can to help."

The local's charitable work takes a number of forms. In one case, they slashed a youth center's utility bill by doing some simple electrical upgrades.

"I thank God for them," said Mary Nelson, who runs the Mary Nelson Youth Center in Syracuse, of Local 43 to WSYR, a local news outlet. "We got people in our community who care about our families."

Thanks to the efforts of some dedicated members who installed more than 60 new drop-in lights, switching them to LEDs, the center's electric bill dropped from almost $1,000 a month to just over $150.

"That high utility bill every month was my biggest operational expense," Nelson said. "I'm very grateful and thankful."

About 10 members performed the work as part of the United Way's Day of Caring in August. Marzullo said the local chose the center in part because of the relationship they had already established.

"We've been helping the center for a few years now," Marzullo said. "They're a part of our community, and they're doing a lot of hard work to make it better."

The youth center works to break the cycle of poverty by focusing on education, health, career assistance, mentorship, and direct services like free legal counseling and food giveaways. Marzullo said the nonprofit organization has been on his radar since he was introduced to Nelson by the wife of former Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim about three years ago. The Boeheims run a foundation that Local 43 is involved with, which led to the introduction. Knowing that their work has helped Nelson dedicate more funding away from costly power bills and toward its programming has been a great reward, Marzullo said.

"When she called me to tell me about the bill, she called crying," he said. "I told her, 'Mary, that's what we do.'"

For Local 43, it's just one example of its members' dedication to volunteering and helping those in need. In addition to the Day of Caring, the roughly 1,500-member local has donated approximately $60,000 to the United Way, divided among three upstate New York chapters. Other charity recipients include Habitat for Humanity and organizations focused on cancer and children with serious illnesses.

"Our members get a deep sense of pride from giving back," Marzullo said. "We don't do it because the work itself is particularly challenging. It's about getting that shared sense of community. That's really what it's all about."

Local 43 also serves as the presenting sponsor of the annual Upstate Towsley Pro-Am golf tournament along with the Finger Lakes chapter of NECA. Despite some inclement weather this year, the event, held in August, raised over $200,000 for adolescent mental health programs at Upstate Medical University.

"This is money that will go a long way toward combatting the stigma surrounding mental health, especially as it relates to our children," Marzullo said.

The event, which draws other New York IBEW locals, members of the building trades and other unions, and various businesses and community members, has special significance for Local 43 since it also honors former Business Manager Bill Towsley. Now deceased, Towsley served on the hospital's board and was widely regarded as a community leader.

"We're proud to continue Bill's legacy of contributing to our community and doing our part to be the rising ride that lifts all boats," Marzullo said. "Sometimes people think we're just a bunch of construction workers, but we're neighbors, too, and we want to help. We're here for whoever needs a hand."