A tradition in Tacoma, Washington, resumed this year after a two-year break, as SIU members and their families pitched in for a worthy cause.
“After a two-year, COVID-19-induced hiatus, the Port of Tacoma was back, repainting a house for a local resident in need as part of the Associated Ministries program Paint Tacoma Beautiful,” said SIU Port Agent Warren Asp, who led the union’s effort. The program selects homeowners in the Greater Tacoma area (normally once per year), and sends volunteers to prep, power wash and repaint their respective homes, all free of charge.
This year, the SIU members repainted the home of Crystal Jordan. “I received a postcard from the Associated Ministries, and I got in contact with them,” Jordan said. “They sent me an application, and after that I was put in contact with the SIU.
“The whole experience was pretty nice,” she added. “The weather was cooperative, though after they did the pressure wash, there was a heat wave, which wasn’t their fault. The house is absolutely gorgeous now. The colors I chose were very, very pretty, and I’m very happy with it.” “This year definitely felt more important than past years, in helping us find a back-to-normal feeling as we see a way through the pandemic,” said Asp. “The membership here was like we never skipped a beat, including one member’s girlfriend that wanted to be involved in the program. As is customary for our members, across departments and cultures, port staff and active mariners, we had a total of 14 volunteers, who worked for four days and 103 total work hours.” The SIU volunteers included Asp, Safety Director Duane Akers, Patrolman George Owen, Port Administrative Assistant Joni Bradley, Recertified Bosuns Sanjay Gupta and Thomas MacGregor, Bosun Francis Miller (and his girlfriend, Candace Parlier), ABM Samed Kassem, AB Mohamed Haruna, ABG Obaid Ali, GUDE Abdulsalam Mohamed, Chief Cook Raul Ventanilla and SA Javier Wurttele.
Asp added, “I would like to give a special shout out to Samed Kassem, whose family has been in the union for decades. He was involved for the entire evolution, from pressure washing to final painting. He gave ‘everything in the tank’ this year. The port has no plans of slowing, and looks forward to painting another house in 2023 and beyond.”
“I’ve been involved multiple years, since probably 2016,” said Miller. “This year, I brought my girlfriend with me to help. On the second or third day, there was rain, but I went on the first day, and the weather was super hot and beautiful out. I’ve never seen a home get painted so fast; we were almost 50% done after the first day.
“The homeowner was very nice, very pleasant when she met with us,” Miller continued. “I think she was really happy with the color she chose; it matched the colors of her plants and the surrounding greenery. I was responsible for the trim, stripping it down, scaling it and painting the trim all along the doors and windows.”
When asked if he would volunteer for the next Paint Tacoma project, he replied, “If I’m home, they know they can call me and I’ll happily help out with this every year. I hope they invite more family members to help out next year, and really turn Paint Tacoma into a family affair.”