Like many charity events, the pandemic threatened a traditional holiday giving program for families in the justice system given by the United States District Court Eastern District of Missouri, Probation Division. Normally, families would gather at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Central West End for festive gift giving. The surging Covid 19 pandemic made that impossible.
Then the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 stepped up and offered to host the Dec. 16. 2020 event and adapt it to conform to social distancing and mask protocols. And through its Electrical Connection partnership with the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), it also donated $2,500 to support the holiday gift giving program.
“We needed larger and more convenient space to adapt our program to a drive up charity event where families could receive free turkeys and other gifts for the holidays,” said Scott A. Anders, Chief U.S. Probation Officer. “IBEW Business Manager Frank Jacobs came up with an extremely generous solution by donating the use of its union hall and large parking area to make our holiday giving event a success. And the IBEW/NECA Electrical partnership’s financial contribution further supports our traditional holiday program to strengthen the families we serve. We are grateful for their tremendous support.” The Electrical Connection has supported the U.S. Probation Officers holiday giving program for the past three years.
In all, more than 60 families in the justice system were served as a stream of cars pulled up at the union hall at 5850 Elizabeth Ave. Volunteers from the U.S. Probation Office and IBEW brought out the gifts and turkeys stored at the union hall.
“IBEW and NECA did what it has done throughout the pandemic – it adapted to serve the community,” noted Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection. Curran also noted that adjacent to the union hall is the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center. “In combination with IBEW/NECA’s generosity, the proximity of the training center could inspire a career path for families in the justice system.”
The holiday giving event is part of the U.S Probation Office’s Project Re-Direct an innovative approach to rehabilitation. It is an intense seven-month program led by Rebecca Bledsoe and Clark E. Porter, MSW, an ex-felon himself, who is now a program support specialist for United States District Court Eastern District of Missouri. The program offers substance abuse treatment, community service, employment assistance, and support for ex-offenders to reduce recidivism and reorient their lives to give greater purpose beneficial to society. Learn more about Porter and Project Re-Direct in this video.
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