On October 27, 2017, District Council 9 members Daniel Dominguez, Eugene Gaston, Nelson Vega, and Marlon Rodriguez headed to Puerto Rico to help those affected by recent storms that ravaged the area.
The volunteers were part of a statewide effort organized by the AFL-CIO. Members of other unions, including nurses, police officers, Teamsters, electricians and pilots went to assist in relief efforts. When DC 9 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Azzopardi received the call from the Building and Construction Trades Council asking if DC, he had only had one response, “When do we leave?”
Brothers Dominguez, Gaston, Vega and Rodriguez felt an overwhelming sense of duty because of their connection to the island, where family, friends and significant others are from, and in some cases, still reside. Due to a lack of electricity and cellular signals, the volunteers worked together to share whatever information they could with other aid sources, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a vital component to getting help to the areas that needed it most.
In addition to applying the sills that they have acquired as tradesmen, our members rolled up their sleeves and jumped in, assisting with everything from handing out meals, serving as translators, clearing roads, repairing roofs and even clearing roads of massive trees and other debris.
Brother Nelson Vega considers his visits with the elderly people on the island some of the most rewarding parts of his trip. He explained, “Simply sitting down and talking with them, sharing stories and connecting was healing in its own way.”
The DC 9 volunteers have stated that this was a great bonding experience, extremely humbling, and something that they will carry with them forever. We thank them for offering their kindness and expertise to others in their time of need.