When an opportunity arose to help area homeless people, SIU members didn’t have to be asked twice.
SIU personnel recently teamed up with other union members and area residents in Broward County, Florida, to move donated furniture from a hotel into two large containers provided at no cost by Seafarers-contracted Crowley Maritime. The volunteers weren’t deterred by hot weather – they finished the project in one day (June 20).
The outreach was organized by the Port Everglades Association (PEA), a maritime business organization to which the SIU belongs.
SIU Assistant Vice President Kris Hopkins led the SIU team, which included members Ron Webb, Anthony Parks, Peter Durangparang, Anito Rarugal, Mike Bowen, David Rodriguez and Mario Hooker. They helped empty 30 rooms, assisted by (among others) members of the IBEW and the Teamsters, respectively.
“Any time we have a chance to help the less fortunate, that’s what we’re all about,” Hopkins said. “We’re the lucky ones, because we have jobs to go to and we have families and homes. But we know that many people living in our county do not.”
“I always like volunteering to help the less fortunate,” Bowen stated. “Anything to help people, I want to be included. It was hot and more hot that day – we have plenty of that kind of weather in Florida – but there was a lot of teamwork and it went great.”
Pier 66 Hotel donated numerous items (bureaus, desks, chairs, lamps, bed linens and other goods) to several local agencies dedicated to providing housing and shelter to the homeless. But, as noted by the association, “There was one big need, however. Much of the furniture and goods needed to be stored in safe keeping for a period of months.”
With that in mind, PEA President Rich Vogel contacted Hopkins and Crowley Vice President Patrick Collins, both of whom serve on the association’s board. They led the way in getting three-dozen volunteers, and Crowley also agreed to keep the containers in a secure area in Fort Lauderdale until the donated items are set for distribution.
“This was a total team effort,” said Vogel. “Our companies and the Port Everglades Association feel very strongly about helping and giving back to our great community. We are glad we could provide help to the truly needy people here in Broward County.”
PEA board member Anitra Lanzci was one of the volunteers toiling through heat and humidity for the hours-long effort. “It was an inspiration to see such a large-scale, unified group demonstrate their commitment,” she said.