Throughout the spring, organized labor community services committees have organized various community service projects, from coordinating mass vaccination drives to supporting homeless veterans and raising food donations at local food pantries.
Homelessness amongst veterans remains a consistent problem. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans. York/Adams CLUW Chair and AFSMCE member Lori Cutshall helped coordinate a donation drive for homeless veterans. Cutshall and her team packed backpacks with essential materials such as socks, soap, and dental supplies. This drive is an annual event titled backpack full of blessings.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.53 million Pennsylvanians experienced chronic hunger every day, including 478,500 older Pennsylvanians and about 437,000 children.”
Food banks are reporting a significant increase in the need for food assistance in their communities, with an average 65 percent increase in demand.”
In Delaware County, the Delaware County Central Labor Council coordinates food donations to local food pantries. Over 500 pounds of food have been collected and donated over the past months. Westmoreland County Central labor council has members bring food to each of their meetings and then present it to the local food pantries.
The Leigh Valley Central Council, in conjunction with Capital Blue cross and Right Aid, have been coordinating a mass vaccination campaign specifically focused on the Latino community where language barriers and lack of transportation have been a barrier to getting assistance. Labor volunteers assisted with helping patients fill out their paperwork, directing traffic, and assisting with sanitizing materials. Hopefully, the efforts in the Lehigh Valley will get us one step closer to reaching herd immunity and lifting current restrictions.
Although the difficulties of the pandemic labor, community services programs are rising to the occasion and addressing the most pressing problems in the community. While there is much more work to be done, this spring has shown the organized labor community is rising to the challenge and keeping Pennsylvania Union Strong!