Doing Good in the Neighborhood

IBEW 11 and EWMC Partner with Habitat for Humanity to Give an Altadena Family a Fresh Start

IBEW 11 and Electrical Workers Minority Caucus brothers and sisters partnered with Habitat for Humanity in July to install the electrical systems in a home being built from the ground up for a husband and wife and their three children who have been on a waiting list for housing for three years.

The family has been living in a 500-square-foot studio that is smaller than the garage of their new Altadena home.

For Journeyman Inside Wireman and seven-year Local 11 member Donald Trotter, the decision to volunteer and give back was an easy one that evoked memories of the tough times he faced being raised in a single-parent home where his mother was the sole provider.

“I was less fortunate growing up, and there were times when we needed a place to stay and we went to live with different family members, and that wasn’t easy,” Trotter said. “So, when I heard that there was a family that needed that same assistance I wish I would’ve had when I was a child, I was eager to dive in and give a hand.”

Trotter installed light fixtures, light switches, plugs, and receptacles, and he took pride knowing that the work he was doing would play a part in helping this family get a fresh start and build new memories in a home they can call their own.

“When that family moves in, I want them to look up and see the lights and see the different amenities that we installed, and I want them to smile and say, ‘Those guys did a really good job,’” Trotter said. “I love to make people happy.”

Victor Blas, another EWMC member and Local 11 Inside Wireman Journeyman working alongside Trotter, shared Trotter’s perspective and echoed his sentiments.

“I grew up in low-income housing in a crowded one-bedroom apartment, and when I heard about this plan to build the electrical infrastructure for this family that has been waiting for housing for three years, I immediately said I wanted to be a part of it,” Blas said. “Getting to be blessed with the opportunity to be an IBEW and EWMC member, it was definitely an honor for me to be there and help out.”

Blas also had the opportunity to meet the family who will be moving into the home he and his union brothers are helping create.

“The family showed up, and it was just incredible to be there and know that you’re part of building this house for them and their kids,” Blas said. “It was an honor to get to apply our trade to give back, because they’ve been living in this small space for so long.”

Motivated by Oscar Martinez

Hovering over the site and in the back of members’ minds was the life and spirit of Local 11 brother Oscar Martinez, who recently lost his battle with cancer and was the guiding force behind finding this family a new home.

Martinez dedicated his work and private life to help give others the opportunity to realize a better life. His selflessness and solidarity with his union brothers and sisters was seemingly endless and left an impact.

“There was definitely more energy on the site knowing that we were doing this in part in Oscar’s honor, because this was his idea,” Blas said. “He was definitely there in spirit.”

Both Trotter and Blas said their decision to volunteer is rooted in the union ethos of fraternity and reaching back to lift others up.

“The union brothers and sisters before me believed in me and gave me my opportunity, so why not give to another family in need or another brother or sister in need?” Trotter said. “Volunteer as much as you can. It creates more integrity within yourself.”

Blas said that union commitment to solidarity and superior craftsmanship extended to making sure every wire, every switch, and every plug was installed to IBEW standards.

“We were making sure that everything we did was double checked, triple checked, because we’re putting our IBEW stamp and seal on it,” Blas said. “It was an honor to work on a project like this and represent IBEW 11 and the EWMC. I’m definitely looking forward to working on other projects like this.”

“It was a blessing for us to donate our time to help this family in need,” said EWMC Los Angeles President and IBEW 11 Apprenticeship Coordinator Alton Wilkerson. “I’m very proud of these brothers for the hard work they put into this project. I’m honored to call them my brothers.” 

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