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Local 128 helps build new home for disabled member

Jamie Stewart with his sister Terri Neely in his new house.

Boilermakers raise $35,000 for project as other unions, community support effort

IN 2016, JAMIE Stewart's house in Corunna, Ontario, was falling apart all around him. The foundation was sinking. The roof was falling in. Black mold threatened his health. It was a trying time for Stewart, a Local 28 (Toronto, Canada) apprentice who suffered a devastating swimming accident more than 20 year ago. That accident left him a quadriplegic.

But union members look out for each other and support those in need. So when Stewart's sister, Terri Neely, began a GoFundMe account to renovate the house, Local 128 members quickly went into action, raising $35,000 for their brother. Others in the greater Sarnia-Lambton community also joined the effort, including area unions (Carpenters, Pipefitters, Laborers, Ironworkers and public employees).

A local construction company, Bakker Design & Build, offered its services for free and soon determined the house needed to be razed and a new one built. Retired L-128 members Mike McCabe and Phil Curran organized volunteers and used their connections to secure equipment for the demolition and new construction.

Today, Stewart's new two-bedroom home is fully accessible with conveniences that increase efficiency and make life easier for him. Kitchen countertops are lower for accessibility. Outside doors open automatically with the push of a button. Volunteers even raised enough money to install a bed with a ceiling track and lift, a barrier-free bathroom, and an accessible stove that allows Stewart to cook his own meals.

"Stewart's new home is a testament to the meaning of brotherhood and an example of what can be accomplished when unions and the community work together," said Local 128 BM-ST John Petronski.