Press Releases
June 04, 2014

Members of the building trades use their skills to make a difference throughout Cook County

Union Signs

Recently, hundreds of union members from the building trades participated in a national day of rebuilding through Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. Members from IBEW Local 134, Chicago Journeyman Plumbers Local 130, the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, and Painters District Council 14 spent the day putting their expert training and skills to work by providing painting, electricity, plumbing and carpentry repairs on homes of residents in need. In conjunction with additional volunteers from business and service organizations, they were able to make major repairs in 70 homes in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood and the Cook County suburb of Riverdale, Ill. 

Rebuilding Together is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize communities. Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago, a subsidiary of Rebuilding Together, improves the homes and neighborhoods of elderly, disabled and low-income residents so that they may continue to live in warmth, safety and comfort.

“We have a lot of people out here today that have the heart to do this work, but we don’t have the skill to get some of these jobs done without the trades,” said Steve Brummer, President of Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. “Together with the trades, we can make a bigger impact than what we could do on our own.”

Homeowner Donna Fizer had members of Plumbers Local 130 moving throughout her house, attending to her plumbing needs. “There is so much that needs to be done,” she said. “My daughter and I do what we can, but things need to be repaired that we just can’t do on our own. When I had the leaky faucets fixed two years ago, and the repairman didn’t do a good job. I know that having them [Plumbers Local 130] here today means it won’t need fixing anymore. This means the world to me, and I can’t thank them enough.”

At a press conference outside Fizer’s home, Commissioner Felicia Davis praised all the volunteers who were on hand that day. “Rebuilding Together helps revitalize the neighborhood. It helps families in need and gives hope to the other neighbors. Chicago is the city of big shoulders. This shows what can happen when the people of Chicago rally around each other.”

Kevin Connolly, a Business Representative for IBEW Local 134, has experienced the impact of RTMC for the last 11 years. “After my first year, I couldn’t believe how happy the homeowners were with the work we did.” Six years ago, Connolly took over as the as the Chairperson for IBEW to RTMC. “As the Chair, I get a chance to see every house and homeowner.”

In the months leading up to National Rebuilding Day, Connolly and fellow IBEW member Gene Kent travel house by house and develop a scope of work to determine the most pressing needs and what the IBEW volunteers can complete in one day. “When we go through the houses, we tend to uncover lots of hidden issues,” said Connolly. “As we find one problem, there are several more problems beneath the surface. We tackle the hazards first, making the home safe for the people who are living there, and if we have time, then we add the aesthetics, like ceiling fans.”

Volunteers begin their day early in the morning and work until the job is complete. “We have to do our fair share to help everyone out,” said Steve Mandarino, a members of Plumbers Local 130. “This work is second nature, so it is easy for us.”

Mark Riha and Ronald Litviak, two members from Painters District Council 14 who volunteered their time, spent the day painting the inside and outside of various houses. “Whatever the homeowners need, we are here to help,” said Riha. “We are so proud to represent our union and give back to the community.”

Jim Coyne, President of Plumbers Local 130, was on hand throughout the day, checking in with his members as he traveled between homes. “I am very proud of my guys for being here today,” said Coyne. “An event like this takes them away from their families, but we see the impact that it makes on each community, and it keeps us coming back year after year.”

Volunteers from Plumbers Local 130 and Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago        Volunteers from Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters