Members of Trenton, N.J., Local 269 put in long, hard hours during the week. But well-earned
weekends aren’t just for relaxing; many members are also committed to the wide
variety of community service activities the local sponsors through its “Good of
the Union” committee.
“Volunteerism is an extremely rewarding experience and it benefits all involved,” Local 269 Business Manager Stephen Aldrich said. “Knowing you have helped through simple sacrifice is its own reward.”
It’s that spirit that inspired the “Good of the Union” committee, which is now woven into the local’s fabric and regularly enhancing its reputation within the greater Trenton community.
Coordinated by Guy Miliziano, the local’s recording secretary, the committee connects many Local 269 members with community organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the American Cancer Society’s annual “Relay for Life.” Some members can be found collecting food for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen or games, dolls and more for the U.S. Marine Corps’s “Toys for Tots” drive. As the winter holidays approach, the local raises money to help families of terminally ill children. Several times a year, it also sponsors blood drives to benefit the American Red Cross.
Local 269’s jurisdiction covers the Garden State’s capital city along with Bucks County, Pa., just across the Delaware River. It’s there that, for more than 10 years, members of the local also have taken part in the “Adopt-a-Highway” program managed by Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation.
“We do it twice a year: in May and October,” said Local 269 member Marc Sciarrotta, who has organized this roadside litter pickup activity ever since he completed his apprenticeship and became a journeyman wireman seven years ago.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation supplies the garbage bags, gloves, signs and warning flags, Sciarrotta said, and IBEW members provide the manpower.
For this year’s spring event on Saturday, May 11, nearly two dozen apprentice and journeyman members of Local 269 met Sciarrotta at 8 a.m. near Oxford Valley Road, at the western end of their designated mile-or-so stretch of U.S. Route 1.
“Usually, we get 15 to 20 apprentices — who are required to get a certain number of community service hours — plus another 10 to 12 journeyman wiremen,” Sciarrotta said. The project can take a few hours to complete, he said, “but the more people who show up, the faster it goes.”
Three official highway signs mark both directions’ starting points: a dark blue sign reading, “Adopt-a-Highway Litter Control;” a lighter-blue one bearing the union’s logo and reading, “IBEW L.U. 269;” and a third that reads, “PennDOT Thanks This 10-Year Participant.”
The volunteers typically find ordinary, run-of-the-mill litter, Sciarrotta said, such as beverage bottles or fast food bags, along with the occasional vehicle part like a mirror or hubcap.
“We’ll end up with anywhere from 75 to 100 bags of trash” he said — about two to three per volunteer. PennDOT retrieves the full bags, usually within a few days.
The entire cleanup process is a positive experience both for the local and for PennDot, Sciarrotta said. “We do our best, and they’re happy with the work we do.”
“Our local’s commitment to serving our community is a big part of what we do, whether it’s cleaning up the highway, building a house for a needy family or collecting presents for kids whose parents can’t afford them at Christmas,” Aldrich said. “It’s also building schools and hospitals or delivering electricity. We live in this community, and we want to make it a better place.”
If your local is interested in adopting or sponsoring a portion of a nearby highway, get in touch with your particular state’s or province’s department of transportation.