For SIU members in the Tacoma, Wash., area, giving back to the community is a way of life.
The latest example of Seafarers’ philanthropy happened in late summer, as a group of 16 people – seven members, four union employees and five family members – teamed up for nearly two weeks of volunteerism in the annual Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful project. The SIU group scraped and painted the home of a local senior citizen and performed related work including pressure-washing and yard work. It marked the seventh straight year of Seafarers participating in the event known locally as Paint Tacoma.
Organized by Associated Ministries of Tacoma-Pierce County, the annual beautification project started in 1985. It aims to help low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners in the region. Since then, more than 2,100 homes have been painted. This year, more than 600 volunteers, including the SIU contingent, helped to paint 37 houses.
“I am proud of all the Seafarers who stepped up to the plate this year and made it successful,” said SIU Port Agent Joe Vincenzo, who once again headed up the union’s participation. “They raise the bar for us all to aspire to always do our best, whether on the deck plates at sea getting paid for our work or under the gables on the beach volunteering in the community.”
Vincenzo especially noted the efforts of Recertified Bosun Darryl Smith, who put in more than 70 hours on this year’s project during the last week of August and first week of September.
In addition to those two, the SIU group included AB Tony Kirven, AB Eric Melle, OS Greg Alsbach, AB Joseph Lacaden, GUDE Joseph Ritchey, Bosun James Grubbs, and GUDE George Arcenal. Chief Cook Joey Lata and his family members came out in force: He was joined by his wife, Merilla, sons Judo and J.J., and daughter, Merilei. Rounding out the group were Safety Director Ben Anderson, Administrative Assistant Jim Ott, Administrative Assistant Brenda Flesner and her daughter Emilia.
Smith said the single-story home of Carol Rybolt needed two coats of paint, and the project “went pretty well. I enjoyed doing it and the homeowner was happy.”
This was his second time volunteering for Paint Tacoma.
“It makes me feel good to see somebody else’s feeling of happiness,” Smith added. “She actually had a look of astonishment at how good the house looks. It was much-needed help and quite a bit of work, but it makes me feel good to give back to the community.”
Rybolt said her home “looks beautiful. I’m very impressed with how everyone was so eager. It was great. Even the kids were here with their families. And Darryl – oh, my goodness. As hot as it was, he was there, hour after hour.
“I’m still amazed,” she concluded. “I show everybody the pictures of all the people who were here.”