SIU's Heindel Elected ITF Seafarers' Section Chair

October 2010

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The particulars of the work itself vary from year to year, but some things don’t change when it comes to the SIU’s participation in the annual Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful project.


For one, the union always has a strong showing, and 2010 was no different as 20 Seafarers, SIU employees and family members gave their time.


Also, despite the long hours involved in beautifying homes for those unable to do it themselves, members invariably find it worthwhile. That, too, proved to be the case this summer as the SIU contingent repaired and painted the Tacoma, Wash., home of 92-year-old Betty Bellandi.


This is the fourth straight year the SIU has volunteered for Paint Tacoma. It was the second time AB Ray Nowak participated, and he came away enthused.


“It’s a pleasure to give back to the community and spread good will,” said Nowak, 53. “I enjoy working with other members of the union where we can help people, especially those who can’t do it anymore. That’s what it’s all about. I feel privileged and glad to participate. This particular lady (the homeowner) – she was born in this same house. She was very grateful for the help and we were very happy to be there.”


For Wiper Brian Goeson, 26, it was a new experience.


“It was pretty interesting,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like that before. It was fun and nice to do something for somebody. I just did it to volunteer. I would do it again.”


The director of Paint Tacoma, Sallie Shawl, praised the SIU group and also offered an insightful comment about not just the Seafarers-specific project but the many dozens of others that comprise the overall program.


“A project like ours is not a quick, go out for four hours on a Saturday and you’re done with it,” she explained. “This is a commitment that takes multiple days.”


As for the SIU, Shawl stated, “I’m so thankful to have a union crew, consistently for the last four years. It feels really important to me to have as many people from organized labor as possible, not only to balance the business crews but for the community to see that our working trade unions are giving back to the community. I’m from a union town, San Francisco, so union shops and union printers are important to me…. The Seafarers this year did incredible repairs on replacing some rotten siding in addition to painting, and they also did some carpentry.”


SIU Tacoma Port Agent Joe Vincenzo called the rank-and-file membership’s yearly response to Paint Tacoma “remarkable, from A-seniority recertified bosuns and stewards to B- and C-seniority, entry-level SAs and DEUs. Each year, Seafarers commit between 250 to 350 man hours of their time, pressure washing, scraping, priming, caulking and painting. This year we even replaced bundles of cedar shakes and some wood trim around the exterior windows that were all but rotted. It takes some planning and effort to get out there and do the work. But once you are on site and the team is in place with brush or scraper in hand, things always seem to come together seamlessly and the work gets done.”


Vincenzo added, “It’s one thing to see shipmates on the deck plates chipping and painting or tying up a ship as a unit. It’s entirely another to see the same shipmates off ship, on their own time and dime, pulling together on some one else’s behalf. The good will that something like this creates is invaluable. I want to personally thank all our rank-and-file members who continue to support this program.”


This year’s Paint Tacoma SIU crew included Nowak, Goeson, Vincenzo, officer administrator Brenda Flesner, Safety Director Ryan Palmer and Seafarers Matt Hays, Robert Ruiz, Billie Born, Willy Smith, Ben Anderson, Reynaldo Agbulos, Jason Babbitt, Randy Wurr, Rizalito Frigillana, Mohamed Alghazali, Mohamed Ahmed and Joey Lata. Also joining the group were Lata’s son, Jadrick, and daughter, Merillei, and Smith’s friend Raul Molina.


According to Associated Ministries, the organization that administers Paint Tacoma, the project’s roots date to 1985, when some city employees “were looking for a morale-boosting project for the summer when they found a low-income senior whose home desperately needed paint. They asked the Exchange Club of Tacoma if they would buy the paint, and the club agreed on one condition: they wanted to paint too, not just put money toward the effort. They had such a good time doing it that they painted two homes the next summer; by the fourth year, enough people joined them to boost the number to 14 homes, and the rest is history.”


In an online description of the modern-day program, Associated Ministries notes, “Homes belonging to low-income senior and disabled homeowners receive both minor repairs and fresh coats of paint. All the work is done by volunteer paint crews from churches, service clubs, businesses, unions, and government offices. Eighty-two homes were painted this past summer – our 25th Anniversary Year – by more than 1,600 volunteers. The grand total number of homes painted since 1985 is 1,902.”

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Painting TacomaAmong this year’s participants from the SIU are (photo directly above, from left) Reynaldo Agbulos, Willy Smith, Joe Vincenzo, Robert Ruiz, Raul Molina, Brian Goeson, Ben Anderson and Billie Born.


Painting Tacoma 2


Painting Tacoma 3