As kids, we all have dreams of what we’ll become when we grow up. Doctors, astronauts, the president. While all of these professions require a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve, what about those among us who dream about serving their country?
Becoming a soldier. A marine. A sailor. A fighter pilot. Theirs is a service and sacrifice that us civilians can only imagine, and oftentimes, the hardest thing about serving is returning home. But the NECA-IBEW team in Boston is doing its part to help give them a hand up, not a hand out.
It’s a beautiful day here in Boston for this year’s Project Stand Down, a collaborative effort between a lot of different people: the VA, the Volunteers of America, FEMA, NECA contractor Dagle Electric, and IBEW Local 103.
Marybeth O’Sullivan, Outreach Advisor, Veterans Outreach UMass Boston
“We’re taking them from the streets, some of them under bridges, and we’re allowing them to sleep in a safe environment, feed them, nourish their souls, their bodies, just about everything. We’ll have chaplain services here, there will be AA meetings going on throughout the weekend. It’s a full intervention. We couldn’t do it without 103 to come through here and light the lights out here.”
They also receive medical services and dental screenings. There’s a massive clothing tent. They can get help searching for a place to live. They’re served a hot meal. The list goes on and on.
Stand Down has been a mainstay on the Local 103 events calendar for more than a decade now, and every year they partner with a NECA contractor for materials.
Maureen Dagle, President, Dagle Electrical Construction
“We got a call from the Local 103, and they said they had a need, that he was putting on this for the veterans. And I thought this was a great idea to honor my number one veteran, which is my dad, Phil Kelley. So we did it, we’re here today. We’re looking around today, and we see these veterans who have put their lives on the line. They definitely needed help, and I’m thrilled hat we were able to do it. Thank god they called us, I know they do this every year and we will do it every year. We’re proud to be a part of 103 and support something like this.”
Then, Local 103 gets to work wiring the tents put up by the National Guard.
First Lieutenant Pat Irwin, Officer in Charge, National Guard
“Our piece of this puzzle is kind of twofold. Number one, we are here to set up tents. We provided all the tents and we’re going to secure them. We also assist the local law enforcement for help securing the event. It’s a great program. We have a number of veterans in the bay State who are homeless or are at risk for becoming homeless. We have some people who are on drugs. We have some people with psychological issues. This is to help them. We’ve tried to spread the word as best we can to any homeless veteran that we’re here to help.”
The NECA-IBEW team donates their time throughout the year to various nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity, but Project Stand Down in Boston is a little different. Different because Local 103 members volunteering here today each have a close connection to the Armed Forces and veterans receiving care.
Matthew Andella, Marine Corp Veteran, Local 103 Journeyman
“It brings a good feeling, helping the veterans. Knowing that I served them and they served prior to me. You just want to help them out as much as you can. We’ve been in the same situations and dealt with the same obstacles for the most part.”
Brendan Trainor, Air Force Veteran, Local 103 Apprentice
“I’m here to pitch in and do my part, whatever I can. It’s pretty bad to see people suffering. I understand we help nations out throughout the whole world, but we have a lot of unnoticed things going on right now in our own backyard. And the membership and the leadership f 103 has noticed it and as best they can are addressing any kind of help they can render.”
Jason Pierucci, Army Veteran, Local 103 Apprentice
“I know a lot of guys that I went over with came back and had a rough time of it, and these are one of those opportunities that the VA puts out there a lot of different times a year to help guys get back on their feet. To give back to something like this means a lot to guys like me.”
Local 103 has about 60 Journeymen and Apprentices that have served or are currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The kind of dedication the military life teaches fits well into the kind of young men and women they want to have as members.
And according to Local 103 Business Manager Mike Monahan, the work done here today is all in a day’s work.
Mike Monahan, Business Manager, Local 103
“I think what it portrays to the end user is that when you see labor and management, Local 103’s Boston chapter and NECA working together, and this event is just one of many. Habitat for Humanity and other charitable events that we do, that labor and management are working together for the common good, the common goal of accomplishing something together. So whether it’s a volunteer, an organized event like this or a charitable event, or it’s a job that we’re working on, we’re going at it together with one common goal, accomplishing the job or project together. And when we finish, we finish together and hopefully it was rewarding for both.”
Mayor Thomas Menino was on hand to thank the veterans for their service and pledge his support of the event and its mission.
After his speech, Mayor Menino was kind enough to let us ask him a question or two more about the event and its volunteers.
Mayor Thomas Menino
“This event is a very important event for the veterans. They chose to give of themselves so we have the freedom in America today. 103’s always been there helping the folks in our community, when it comes to education, when it comes to Stand Down, whatever It may be, Local 103 electrical union steps up tot eh plate and makes a difference in the City of Boston.”
These guys don’t do it for the accolades. They don’t do it for the recognition. But rather, to help someone out who needs it the most.
Stand Downs go on in over 100 cities across the country every year. If you’d like more information on Project Stand Down, just visit the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website at www.va.gov.