Local 26 in the Community

Local 26 Annual Year-round Food Drive
Local 26 is conducting a year-round Food Drive. Over the years, Local 26 has helped many of our community partners through our annual food drive, which stocks food pantries that are low on critical supplies. The community partners we assist through our food drive are longtime advocates for Union Labor that have consistently lent us their support when called upon.

To support these friends on a more regular basis, we will be collecting non-perishable food items throughout the year. Beginning at the General Membership Meeting in April, Local 26 started having collection boxes. They will be at certain meetings and events, such as union meetings, blood drives, picnics, and Christmas parties, to name a few. We ask that you please bring a canned food item to donate. You will receive a punch card with your first donation and each time you make a donation, that card will be marked by an event representative. After 10 validations on the card, you will receive a Local 26 Giving is Living polo shirt. Please help Local 26 support our community!

EWMC Day of Service Gives Back to UCAP

The Local 26 chapter of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC), living by their mission to help underserved communities in our jurisdiction, once again spread their goodwill and generosity through their National Day of Service on November 18th. About 70 Local 26 members, hailing from EWMC, the Local 26 Motorcycle Riders’ Club, the Retired Members’ Club, and the apprenticeship program, donated their time and talents to help United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP), a social services agency serving Prince George’s County.

The Local 26 team spent three hours at UCAP’s building cleaning three areas slated to be converted into more functional space. They removed old furniture and assembled new, painted cabinets, and installed shelves. Significant work was also completed on UCAP’s grounds, including cleaning the playground, installing a basketball hoop and blowing and collecting leaves.

The volunteers also organized UCAP’s food pantry which was depleted from its Thanksgiving donations and thankfully restocked through Local 26’s ongoing year-round food drive.

EWMC President Mark Thompson says that the day of service was an “extraordinary effort” that was “emotionally received with gratitude.” Thank you to all who made the 2023 EWMC Day of Service a success. 

We had a lot to be thankful for in 2023!

Local 26 officers rolled up their sleeves to help distribute donated food over the Thanksgiving holiday to those in need. Alongside Steamfitters Local 602 members, Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 5 members, and MD State Senator Joanne Benson, our officers and business agents handed out 1,000 turkeys, 800 bags of produce, and 1,000 lbs. of apples as recipients pulled up to St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in Seat Pleasant, MD, on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Local 26 helped make it possible for our neighbors in need to receive the makings of a wonderful holiday meal.

2023 a Record Year for Our Holiday Food and Coat Drives

A warm coat and food on the table are things our Local 26 members are blessed to have every day, but that’s not the case for some of our friends and neighbors in our Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC communities. When a warm coat becomes a luxury item rather than a necessity and food insecurity because a daily reality, it’s time that those who can, do. And, year after year, Local 26 does—answering the call for help from the social services agencies that serve our area’s most vulnerable.

For 15 years our Local has organized a holiday food drive and for 12 years we’ve held the coat drive, relying largely on the generous donations of our members, staff, and contractors. Food and coat donations and monetary contributions were collected this past year at our holiday parties in Front Royal, VA and Greenbelt, MD; at our union meetings; at our Winchester, VA satellite office; and through the JATC’s day and night school classes. From November 3rd through December 15th, Local 26 collected over $25,000 in financial contributions and food donations, along with over 350 coats. This past year proved to be the most successful year yet for our Local 26 food and coat drives.

All of the donated canned food and coats went to United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) with whom Local 26 has proudly partnered on many charitable efforts over the years. UCAP, based in Prince George’s County, works to support those who have been profoundly impacted by poverty, unemployment, homelessness, crime, and inadequate public health services. Monetary donations were divided among a number of social services agencies that serve the communities in our Local 26 jurisdiction: Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, MD; Chesapeake Cares Food Bank in Calvert County, MD; Southern MD Food Bank in Charles County, MD; Mission Food Bank in St. Mary’s County, MD; Latin American Youth Center in Washington, DC; Northern VA Food Rescue in Manassas, VA; Reaching Out Now, Inc. in Winchester, VA; United Way of Charlottesville, VA; and Local Office on Aging in Roanoke, VA.

The success of our food and coat drives is the result of the generosity and commitment from so many companies and individuals. Senseny Cleaners in Winchester, VA, which is owned by Larry and Pach Panciera, parents of second-year apprentice Nicholas Panciera, have long supported our coat drive and supplied most of the coats collected in the Front Royal area. C3M Power Systems LLC donated over 300 coats and 2,500 canned food items and made a monetary donation. National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and many of our contractors supported our charitable efforts with significant financial donations as well as food and coat donations. The contractors who lent us their support were Contemporary Electrical Services Inc., Hatzel and Buehler Inc., John E. Kelly & Sons Electrical Construction, and Mona Electric Group Inc.

The success of our drives would not have been possible without our members and officers who donated canned goods and monetary contributions and those who rolled up their sleeves to secure contributions, load trucks, and deliver the donations. Thank you to Recording Secretary Rich Murphy for organizing our food and coat drives; Light Green’s third-year Tuesday apprenticeship class in Lanham, MD for helping to load all of the donated food and coats for delivery, and to President Tom Myers; Business Agent Cordelia Evans; Organizers Luis Gonzalez and Juan Bonilla; Instructors Mark Thompson and Joseph Jackson; and Building Manager Dave Hogan for helping with the delivery of our donations.

Local 26 Annual Food & Coat Drive 2022

This year we gathered over 8,000 pounds of food totaling over $23,000. While much of the actual food was donated, many monetary donations were also collected with which food was purchased. These generous donations were made by members, officers, and JATC students in collection bins placed in the Union Halls, at union meetings and holiday parties, and in the training center. A special thank you to several contractors who also supported our efforts—Hatzel & Buehler who donated $2,000, Kelly Electric who donated $2,000 and C3M who collected canned goods and coats at their employee holiday party.

The donated food was hand delivered to the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC; Manna Food Center in Montgomery Co., MD; Bowie Interfaith Pantry in Prince George’s Co., MD; Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry in Calvert Co., MD; Southern MD Food Bank in Charles Co., MD; and Mount Zion Church in St. Mary’s Co., MD. It was an all-hands-on-deck effort in which all of the officers and agents of Local 26 and all of the JATC staff helped organize, purchase, and load and deliver the donated food.

In addition to the collected food, over 200 coats were donated to S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) in Washington, DC and Bright Futures in Winchester, VA. Some winter boots, hats, and gloves were donated as well. President Tom Myers, Recording Secretary Rich Murphy, Financial Secretary Chris Cash, Business Representatives Chris Brooks and Gary Hall, Brother Dave Hogan and Sister Cary James all rolled up their sleeves to get these winter items to those who needed them the most.

Brother Rich Murphy says that he was “overwhelmed by the donations and support from our membership and contractors to give to those less fortunate.” There is no doubt that the recipients of our generosity were also overwhelmed by the holiday spirit of Local 26 and the IBEW!

EWMC Day of Service Spring 2021

The Electrical Workers' Minority Coalition, along with the Local 26 Women's Committee, ReNEW, Retired Members' Club, and the EW Motorcycle Club, lent their hands for a Day of Service at the Capital Area Food Bank on March 21, 2021. They filled 1,260 boxes of food that was 27 pallets of boxes of food to go out for food distribution to families. They also had a call to donate 100 masks for adults and children & sanitizer to FAPAC (Foster & Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center). The Union matched our mask goal and donated 12 gallons of sanitizer which we donated to a representative of FAPAC at this event. Read the article in IN Charge.

Volunteer Food Distribution

Business Representatives Chris Brooks and Tom Clark, along with State Senator Joanne Benson and rain soaked volunteers, helping the community during the pandemic. This drive thru food distribution at Suitland High School helped hundreds of families in need.

Wall Washing

     Americans geared up to celebrate our nation’s independence on July 4th, Local 26 members and their families chose to start off the July 4th week by honoring the brave men and women who sacrificed their life for our country in the Vietnam War and Korean War. About 70 Local 26 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and opened their hearts by proudly and lovingly cleaning the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall and the grounds of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC, early morning on July 1st. According to the National Park Service, the Local 26 crew was far and away the largest crew of volunteers to participate in this effort, as volunteer crews usually top out at about 20.

     The Vietnam Veterans of America, in partnership with the VFW and American Legion Posts, spearhead this clean up and maintenance effort which runs every weekend from April through November. When our own Linda Lawrence, on behalf of our Local 26 Virginia Team on Politics (V-ToP), learned of this clean-up program, she immediately contacted the Vietnam Veterans of America and secured a date for Local 26 to volunteer. The process is first come, first served and the volunteer slots fill up quickly. She gladly accepted the date of July 1 and even took on two more dates—August 5th and October 28th—to clean the Korean War Memorial Wall.

     Business Manager George Hogan, President Tom Myers and all of the Local 26 leadership team were on board with the effort, so all that was left to do was secure volunteers. And, that proved to be incredibly easy! With just an announcement on Facebook, some word of mouth, and an ad on the back page of the last InCharge, members signed up in droves to volunteer. Compared to the size of typical crews, the 70-strong Local 26 crew exemplified heart and power!

     Business Manager Hogan arranged for the Local 26 trailer to be on site to serve coffee, water, and donuts when the volunteers began arriving at 5:45 a.m. The large turnout enabled the crew to work efficiently, splitting into four teams and working from the outer edges of the wall in toward the middle. The crews would rinse four panels of the wall at a time, scrub those panels with sponges, brushes, and special detergent, rinse again, and then continue on. Section by section they made certain that the wall gleamed and continued to honor the brave men and women who died in service to our country. At the end, the crew surveyed the grounds and cleaned up all of the trash leaving no footprint behind, just a beautiful memorial at which visitors can pay their respects.

     “Our members are accustomed to working in crews for maximum efficiency on the job,” noted Business Manager Hogan. “It’s natural for us to work together, help each other and, today, to share the honor of washing the Wall.”

     V-ToP would like to thank Business Manager Hogan, President Myers, Financial Secretary Joe Dabbs, Treasurer Melvin Cherry, and Executive Board Members Violet Carter and Greg Warner for their support and elbow-grease as they all came out and volunteered. And, of course, a huge thank you goes out to our Local 26 members and family members for selflessly donating their time to this worthy effort.

Visit the Photo Gallery for more photos at the event.

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