AFSCME Council 18

ACT: New AFSCME 18 Program Highlights Community Service

The United Way’s AFL-CIO Community Services program is yet another way union members give back to their communities. To further its commitment to aiding those in need and the good work of the United Way, Council 18 has announced its ACT (AFSCME Community Team) program. Council 18 will pilot the ACT program in the Albuquerque area and then will establish it in other areas of the state.

ACT’s first project is on Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Albuquerque, where AFSCME volunteers will be working with Jewish Family Services on repairing a wheelchair ramp, installing railings, painting the interior of a home and cleaning the yard of elderly residents.

We will need 40 volunteers: AFSCME members, family and friends. We will meet at the AFSCME Union Hall, at 9:30 a.m., then head out to the job sites. Please contact Yvette Sanchez at yjsanchez2003@yahoo.com, or at 266-2177, to add your name to the volunteer list and to receive an ACT t-shirt.

The partnership between the United Way and the AFL-CIO began nationally in 1946. At that time community-service efforts carried out during World War II by the Community Chest (now the United Way), the War Relief Fund and the AFL and the CIO (at that time separate organizations) were consolidated, along with some Red Cross efforts, under the Community Chest. Today the United Way’s labor liaison program has 206 staff members in 159 communities in 43 states.

In New Mexico, the AFL-CIO Community Services Program was established in 1978 in Albuquerque. The original agreement was between Neal Gonzales, president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, and John Moawad, president of the United Way of Greater Albuquerque. That changed slightly in 1986 when a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Bernalillo County Central Labor Council (now the Central New Mexico Labor Council) and the United Way of Greater Albuquerque (now the United Way of Central New Mexico).

Mike Swisher has been the United Way’s labor liaison since 1986.

Being out of work puts stress on individuals and, especially, families. Mike Swisher of the United Way’s 211 program – funded by a grant from Sheetmetal Workers Local 49 and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association – offers this advice: 

- Prioritize what needs you should address.

- First, pay your rent or mortgage. Among other places, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul offer rent assistance programs.

- Second, pay utilities. Contact your utilities and inquire about assistance programs.

- Third, contact your creditors. Explain your problem. Arrange to make minimum payments. Keep records of whom you talk to. Remember the importance of car payments, but paying credit cards should definitely be last in your priorities, Swisher said.

- Fourth, food is easiest to find. There is a variety of food box and food bank programs in most communities. In New Mexico, start by contacting the Roadrunner Food Bank at either (505) 349-8841 or http://www.rrfb.org/get-help/find-help-in-your-area/.

The United Way’s 211 program offers advice and referrals on a range of problems. To reach the program, call 211 on any land line or cell phone. In New Mexico, this service is available in the Albuquerque metro area, the Clovis/Portales area, Farmington, Hobbs, Los Alamos and Roswell.
 

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