CHICAGO, July 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- With elevated unemployment rates and a host of economic challenges caused by COVID-19, food pantries around the country are serving as a critical stop-gap measure to help individuals and families weather the financial storm. As the vital importance of these community-based organizations has been underscored in recent months, Powering Chicago's JMS Electric has lent its expertise, time and labor on a volunteer basis to help one suburban Chicago organization expand its capacity to address local food insecurity.
Schaumburg-based JMS Electric was recruited for the project by Colt Moylan, an Alderman for Des Plaines' 2nd Ward who also serves as a business agent for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134. After the nonprofit Self-Help Closet & Pantry recently acquired a former restaurant for its new facility through a partnership with the City of Des Plaines, renovations to the roof, parking lot and interior of the building were needed to bring the facility up to code and prepare it for occupancy in the fall.
"When Colt reached out we knew right away this was a project we wanted to be a part of," JMS Electric President Nick Santoro explained. "During such uncertain times, it's critically important to help those within our communities and this project gave us that exact opportunity. We can't wait to see more of the great work Self-Help Closet & Pantry can do once they move into the space this fall."
JMS Electric's work installing new lighting and a fire alarm system complements the volunteer efforts of union carpenters, painters, plumbers and tuckpointers, each of whom have been instrumental in upgrading the building after it sat vacant for approximately five years. Also lending its support to the project was electrical supplier Gexpro, which donated supplies needed for JMS to complete its work on the project.
"It's amazing to see the progress in such a short timeframe," said Bill Schoenberg, board member and treasurer of the Self-Help Closet & Pantry. "We had about 240 hours of labor donated by the electricians alone, not to mention the volunteer time from the other union trades working in the building and the donations of supplies from distributors. It looks fantastic, and we're very grateful for all of the support."
With work on track to be completed as scheduled, the nonprofit expects to move into its new headquarters in mid-October. Relying almost exclusively on support from the community in the form of donations of food, clothing and funding, operating out of the new facility will greatly expand the organization's capacity and enhance its ability to meet the emergency needs of members of the community.
"We've seen an increase of 75 to 80 families per month in need of our help because of the pandemic," Schoenberg said. "Right now, in our old facility, we don't have enough storage to get all of the donations of food we receive from the community into the hands of families who need it. We end up re-donating to several other local groups that provide emergency food assistance too. Once we're in this new facility in the fall, we'll have the cold storage we need to pass all of the donations of food we receive directly to families who come to us when they're struggling with hunger. It's a great thing."
JMS Electric's volunteer work on behalf of the Self-Help Closet & Pantry is the latest example of the unionized electrical industry's investment in better communities throughout metropolitan Chicago. Each year, Powering Chicago and its members support dozens of worthy causes, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago and a holiday party for children experiencing homelessness, among others.
"Better communities matter to us because our electricians and contractors don't just work in Cook County, they live here too," said Powering Chicago Director Elbert Walters III. "When our members are giving back in the community, they're not just helping Cook County residents, they're helping their neighbors. We are always interested in opportunities to lend our support where possible, and it's more important than ever to do so given the array of challenges COVID-19 has presented."
To learn more about the unionized electrical industry's commitment to better communities in metro Chicago, visit the Powering Chicago website.
About Powering Chicago
Bringing together the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 electricians and the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA) of City of Chicago, Powering Chicago is an electrical industry labor-management partnership that invests in consistently better construction, better careers and better communities within the metro Chicago region. Employing the latest technology, its members are elevating industry performance through their commitment to safety, level of experience and reliability, while also investing in the future of skilled labor through an innovative apprenticeship program that is paving the way for the next generation of skilled electricians. For additional information, visit poweringchicago.com.
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SOURCE Powering Chicago