USW Cares: 2017 District 13 USW Jefferson Award Winner, the South Louisiana Women of Steel Regional Council

The South Louisiana Women of Steel (WOS) Regional Council pulled resources from its locals to completely refurbish a “living room” at a women’s shelter in their area. For their hard work and compassion, the council is District 13’s 2017 USW Jefferson Award winner.

Last year, the council “adopted” Room #13 at the Iris Domestic Violence Center in Baton Rouge, La. What started out as small idea to spruce-up the room with some cleaning and fresh paint turned into a year-long project that transformed barren living quarters into a safe space for someone to call home.

USW locals in the council donated $3,200 to make Room #13’s renovation possible.

Women in the council invited their husbands, families and fellow union members to help rip-up old carpet, install new wood flooring, paint walls and remove old furniture. Then, the volunteers brought in new furniture, replaced all the bedding, and decorated with lamps, rugs and pictures. They even bought and installed a closet door that was missing.

“Upon entering the room it was not very appealing and rather depressing. There were no curtains and old blinds on the windows. We added color and life to the room,” said Diane Babin, District 13 WOS Coordinator.

“As we worked on our Room #13, women and children from the shelter would stop by to see our progress. It was a drastic change from what the room looked like before. They all wanted our room!”

In addition to totally refurbishing Room #13, over the holidays the council collected bath towels, bed sheets, baby diapers, baby wipes, paper towels and personal hygiene items for the shelter; they even managed to donate a television.

Sandie Melancon, who chairs the council, said they never had a problem getting people to lend a hand, “People are compassionate. If they can get time away from work, I never find it hard getting people to volunteer.”

Melancon was surprised, though, by how the project helped their community in more ways than one, “Whoever is in the room can feel safe & comfortable after leaving a dire situation. But also, everybody participated and it spread word of the shelter. A lot of women looking for help didn’t even know this place existed.”

The council’s adoption period ended in June, and they are currently thinking of what project they’ll tackle next. “Maybe we’ll adopt another room!” said Melancon.

If you know an individual or committee that does impressive community service like the South LA Regional WOS council, tell us! Use the #USWCares hashtag when you post about it on social media, tag @Steelworkers, and nominate for the 2018 USW Jefferson Awards by clicking here.

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