Packer-Town Local Gets Applause for Volunteerism

June 19, 2013

Like nonprofit organizations across North America, the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay, Wis., is scraping for funds to keep its programs alive even while the need to help struggling citizens grows due to a still difficult economy.


When Wisconsin Public Services Corp., Eland Electric and Green Bay Local 158 teamed up to supply 80 solar panels free of charge to the club, saving $350 to $400 a year in electric bills, three local TV news and two newspapers showered them with praise, not just for saving money, but for educating children.

WBAY-TV Channel 2 showed IBEW electricians installing the panels and featured Eland Electric Project Manager Jesse Michalski, wearing his union sticker square in the center of his hardhat, detailing how electricians volunteered to work without pay on the installation.  A representative of the Boys and Girls Club said it’s a “win-win” anytime the club can divert funds from utility costs to programs for youth.

 “While the professionals were installing the solar panels on the roof, children were taking part in activities learning about solar power,” said a video post on Press-Gazette Media.  The activities included playing with a solar-powered car and using a solar-powered oven to bake cookies.

Local 158 Business Manager Don Allen says electricians who were already working four 10-hour shifts at Eland Electric volunteered to install panels on their day off. And two electricians from another signatory contractor took a day off of work to join them.

The volunteer solar project at the Boys and Girls Club marks the fifth straight year that  Eland and Local 158 members have installed solar arrays at local nonprofits, including Options for Independent Living, Cerebral Palsy Inc. and the Green Bay West High School. The company also donated 100 solar panels to the union to provide electricity to its training center and others to the city’s labor temple.

 “Green Bay Mayor James Schmitt showed up at the press event where our project was announced and expressed his gratitude for our work,” Allen said.  “When Local 158 members volunteer, we are encouraging others to do the same. Everyone gains.”

Allen says the local’s market development director Dave Jungbluth is always looking to build stronger ties with the surrounding community.

“Nothing shows the IBEW’s heart and vision better than those members of Local 158 who volunteered their time to establish renewable energy capacity at a nonprofit agency and, in the process, educated youth about electricity,” said International President Edwin D. Hill.  “This is community engagement at its finest.”