USW Cares: 2017 District 4 USW Jefferson Award Winner, Brigitte Womer

Brigitte Womer of Local Union 1000 is District 4’s USW Jefferson Award winner for leading the local’s Women of Steel and Next Gen committees in various community service projects that rebranded the union in Corning, N.Y. as community-builders.

In 2016, Womer was Co-Chair to Women of Steel and Coordinator to Next Generation in Local 1000.  She helped lead the two committees through multiple small and large-scale projects that put more than $34,500 into the community just that year. 

They donated gift cards to the local veterans affairs hospital, which helped veterans buy medication and other necessities. They raised $10,000 selling breast cancer awareness shirts for the Susan G. Komen Foundation of the Southern Tier, making them the Foundation’s second largest contributor. They even hosted a Halloween carnival at the union hall for more than 200 kids where games, prizes, cotton candy, popcorn, and drinks were all free to the kids and their families.

Additionally, Womer and her fellow Next Geners started a Global Solidarity Day by going to the homes of retired Steelworkers, veterans and their widows to do physically demanding tasks. The volunteers take care of retirees’ yards, paint houses, build sheds, prepare homes for winter, and cut wood for winter heating.

Womer also participates in the local’s most popular charity, their Holiday Adoption Program.  Every Christmas the entire local ‘adopts’ all of the abused and neglected children in the Schuyler County Foster Care system. “Last year, there were more adopters than kids,” Womer proudly explained, “and our members don’t skimp when it comes to giving these kids a Christmas.”

The kids are asked for a “need” list and a “want” list, and they get pretty much everything that’s on their lists, from clothes and books to iPads and laptops. “Our members look forward to this event and Global Solidarity Day the most,” said Womer, “We love spoiling those kids who would otherwise not even have a Christmas.”

As an organizer, Womer made being on-the-road into an individual service project by traveling with homemade “care bags” full of snacks, soap, water bottles and other things to leave with the homeless she encountered at stop-lights and traffic jams – she lost count of how many she’s given out after 100.

“Between helping organize the Global Solidarity Day, Christmas shopping for children who wouldn't have a Christmas, and carrying around bags of necessities for the homeless, Brigitte has had an extreme impact on our local community,” Crystal Naylor said of her union sister.

Womer gives all the credit to her fellow activists, though: “I can’t say enough about the committee members and our local’s members, honestly. I’m accepting this award on their behalf.”

Brigitte Womer is one of hundreds of USW members stepping-up for their communities. If you know a Steelworker who deserves recognition for their community service, tell us! Use the #USWCares hashtag when you post about it on social media, tag @Steelworkers, and nominate for the 2018 USW Jefferson Awards http://usw.to/rq.

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