By COLIN STAUB
Machinists District Lodge W24 hosted a barbecue Aug. 10 at a transitional housing village for homeless veterans, in a growing partnership between the union and local nonprofit Do Good Multnomah.
Union reps organized the event at the Clackamas County Veterans Village, which provides living space for veterans while they’re working to get into a permanent residence. The barbecue came shortly after multiple District Lodge W24 officers participated in a 12-mile fundraising march for Do Good Multnomah.
“This is something that means a lot to me,” said Frank Wilson, a U.S. Navy veteran and Machinists Local 1005 member, who helped connect the union with the nonprofit.
Wilson works as a vehicle mechanic for the City of Portland, and he serves as a delegate on the steering committee of the national Machinists Veterans Services program. The program supports veterans by helping them get connected with the benefits they’re entitled to.
Wilson is in the process of getting accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which will allow him to work directly with Machinists members who are navigating the VA system. He’ll be able to act as their representative, and complete paperwork on their behalf. But he’s already helping out veterans in other ways. Wilson learned about Do Good Multnomah several months ago. It’s a Portland-area nonprofit that helps homeless veterans find housing.
Wilson invited a Do Good staff member to attend a Machinists Local 1005 meeting to present about the work the group does. Afterwards, he signed up for a Do Good fundraiser set up as a ruck march. (In military service, a ruck march is when soldiers carry all their gear for a rigorous walk over rough terrain.) He walked 12 miles carrying 35 pounds in his pack, in the end raising over $1,000. He was joined by fellow Machinists representatives Dwain Panian, Larry Bickett and Carol Krohn, and Laborers 483 member Steven Burton.
During the fundraiser, the Do Good team invited the Machinists out to the Clackamas County tiny house village, where veterans can live while they’re working toward permanent housing. Wilson and the Machinists business reps visited the village, met some of the residents and saw some opportunities to donate. The village was low on laundry soap, for example, so Machinists Local Lodges 1005 and 1432 raised money to provide some detergent. Then they contributed $750 to host the barbecue, and meet more of the veterans living at the village. Like Wilson, some of the Machinists who attended were veterans themselves, and they got to swap stories with the village residents. It highlighted that they have a lot in common, Wilson said.
“Veterans get around other veterans and they kind of open up a little bit,” he said. “So it was nice to be able to talk to other veterans and have a good time.”