Phil Alleman, who retires in January, is a 25-year IBEW member who has served as shop steward and bargaining committee member at Bella Vista Water District for over two decades. The union invited Brother Alleman to share his reflections on the union, life, and “second chances.”
I am employed as an Electrical & Instrumentation Technician and know the Union has made a difference in my life as well as the lives of the employees where I work. I have participated in nine contract negotiation committees, which I believe have improved our working conditions and our employee benefits, and have made our place of employment a better place to work.
I will be retiring in 2014 after 37 years working as an Electrician. I have had some great opportunities working in this trade and have learned a lot from some of the best people in the trade. I am grateful to all of them and the time I spent with them in learning the electrical trade. I am also thankful to those individuals who took the time to look beyond my faults and shortcomings and gave me a second chance.
What do I mean by that? Let me explain.
Right out of high school in 1966 I volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army. By the end of that year I had orders for Vietnam. I lasted just two months in country before being evacuated on a stretcher to the U.S. Army Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver. After four months of recovery I was given an Honorable Discharged and shipped out to the VA Hospital in Long Beach, CA for another four months of recovery.
By the end of 1967 I was back in my home town and was seen as just another Vietnam Vet with anger issues. I did have issues which caused me a lot of trouble and got me in trouble with the law. And I paid for it.
Second chances come because there are individuals that see something in you that you don’t see in yourself. They take a risk on you and believe you are worth it. They opened doors to me that I could have never opened myself. Never discount those small acts of kindness and the interest you take in those around you. Those acts really do make a difference when a man needs a second chance or just an encouraging word and you are that one person who believes in them more than they do themselves. It was just such an individual that took me on as an apprentice when others would not. He helped me to learn, in my opinion, the best craft there is.
We don’t get through this life by ourselves. We might try – I know I did. A few years ago I asked for help from the VA in dealing with the PTSD from Vietnam I was never willing to admit. Again it was an individual who took an interest in me, who saw that help was needed and there was nothing in it for him, just the desire to help.
Such are the people of IBEW Local 1245 that I am proud to know and be a part of: those who are willing to stand next to you in good and bad times and call you “brother” and see you get a second chance to demonstrate the trust they put in you.
I am going to continue my membership in IBEW Local 1245 when I retire by paying non-working dues just to stay in touch with the people and the craft I enjoyed working in. I also plan on volunteering in my community with organizations that are on the lookout for those individuals who need someone to believe in them. I want to offer the same help to them that I received.
Second chances do make a difference; take the time to offer one.
Lighthouses: Guide through the Storm
I am a big Lighthouse fan. The mechanical and electrical systems are amazing and the craftsmanship back in the 1800s was first class and today’s craftsman can admire and respect the work they did back then.
What is even more important is what the lighthouses were designed to accomplish: “Guide you through the storm to safe harbor.” I know that is one of the reasons I am so in to them. I was one of those ships tossed by the rough seas of life and headed for destruction when I saw the light from individuals who cared enough to help me and guide me to a better life.
It is one of my plans in retirement to visit every lighthouse on the West Coast, and there are a lot of them. While I am at each one it is my goal to reach out to a complete stranger who is visiting the lighthouse and encourage them in any way I can and let them know how important they are. It is because of the “second chance” I received that I do this.