December 18, 2009 Volume 110 Number 24

Slow economy hasn’t dampened spirit of giving at IBEW 280

With the economy in such poor shape, construction projects nationwide have slowed to a crawl.

But that doesn’t mean workers aren’t keeping busy as they wait for jobs to return.

Several members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 280 in Tangent are volunteering their skills for those in greater need than they are.

Brian Samp is one of those union members.

Nearly a year ago, Samp responded to a notice posted on the board at the Local 280 union hall looking for electricians to volunteer their skills in the community.

Executive Board member Joe Evans was coordinating the volunteer program for the union and, after talking to Samp, he referred him to Habitat for Humanity, which was constructing duplexes in McMinnville for families in need of housing.

Within a couple of days, Samp was recruiting other union members to help wire the duplexes. He targeted apprentices at the IBEW Local 280 training center, thinking it was a perfect opportunity for them to get on-the-job experience while at the same time putting their training to work.

“I just told them to lay out this project, how they would wire the job and then execute their plan,” Samp said. “It is really good experience for them, and they can actually do something other than just pulling wire. Of course, I was there to watch them just in case.”

Marianne Mills, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in McMinnville, says Samp and the volunteer electricians are a “godsend.”

Mills, a retired school teacher, said she sees the differences it makes in children’s lives when they have a place to live and they’re not sleeping in the back seat of a car.

“Children need a place to live and sleep and feel safe,” she said.

Samp and the other union volunteers take great pleasure to be able to help families out. Besides that, Samp and his colleagues just think of it as the right thing to do when you are part of a community.

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