SIU members in the Houston area recently pitched in and, along with fellow union members and community organizations, helped distribute relief aid to 3,000 local families in need.
In response to the severe winter storms that devastated the Houston area, the volunteer effort provided food, water, meal kits, pillows and cups through a drive-thru distribution that took place on February 28. The entire event was organized in under 24 hours.
SIU Vice President Gulf Coast Dean Corgey led a group of SIU volunteers that included Port Agent Joe Zavala, Safety Director Kevin Sykes, Recertified Bosun Raymond Nowak, MDR Ernest Latimore, Chief Cook Craig Sorrell, AB Eleuterio Lino (and his son), and GUDE Wuelner Arzu.
Corgey, who is also one of the Port Commissioners for the Port of Houston, said, “As most of us know, the City of Houston was founded on maritime commerce, and that continues to this day. And maritime commerce is what gets us out of all these pandemics and natural disasters. And I can tell you, the first link in the supply chain is the port…. We have kept that supply chain moving; in fact, we’ve ramped it up. We’re moving more cargo down there than we ever have, and we’re going to continue to do that. Everybody working together to help out is truly an inspiration to me, and I’m so excited by what I’m seeing today: faith, labor and government working together.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner thanked the various labor organizations as well as the National Association of Christian Churches (NACC) for their efforts and the volunteer manpower of their members.
“We are still dealing with people’s lives being significantly disrupted because of the winter storm,” Turner said. “So even though the power is on, the water pressure has normalized, the reality is that there are thousands of homes including apartments that have been affected because of busted pipes, and they still do not have water.
“How we respond says a lot about our city, and we are responding in a very positive way because we’re coming together as a group,” said Turner.
Two days prior, SIU officials in Houston were involved in another volunteer effort, delivering water to local residents in need. SIU Assistant Vice President Mike Russo joined Sykes and Zavala in making those deliveries, which were organized by the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation.
Zavala said, “This is just a small example of what the labor movement can do when we come together and perform works of compassion for our communities”