Local Donates Labor,
Materials to Help Homeless Families

July 28, 2014


Local 191 member Jim Malella worked on the inside wiring for “Our House,” which hosts up to ten families per year.


The number of homeless children in rural Whatcom County, Wash., has doubled in the past two years. Most of these children are being raised by a single parent, and even if they do find temporary housing in group homes, families are often separated by gender.


Members of Bellingham Local 191 pulled together with the community to help create a solution. In February eight members completed all of the inside wiring work on local nonprofit group Interfaith Coalition’s housing unit, which can host up to three families at a time without separating any members.

“Our members are part of this community and we try to donate our time when we hear about a need we can fill,” said Local 191 Business Manager Joe Lorenzo.

The need was particularly crucial in the building of “Our House,” which operated on a very small budget and relied on the donation of time, materials and skilled labor to become a reality. Local 191 reached out to PowerTec and All-Phase Electric Supply to donate materials, and contributed the rest themselves.

Local 191 President Damien Fisher organized the members on the project, and estimated that Local 191 volunteered about 150 hours on the inside wiring work.

“There is a certain satisfaction in helping others in our community,” Fisher said. “When given the chance to give others a hand up so they can help themselves, it’s very inspiring to both me and the others in our local.”

On July 13, Our House hosted its first open house, sharing the new fully-furnished units with the public. Our House is one of 11 housing units built by Interfaith Coalition to shelter homeless families. The efforts will not only help keep families together, but keep children’s lives stable by allowing them to remain in their schools during turbulent times.

Fisher said that when the local got the call, members didn’t hesitate to contribute. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”