The Reno-Sparks Chapter of the IBEW 1245 Retirees Club was forged in the fight to defend retirement medical benefits when NV Energy was trying to take them away.
Today, five years after that epic struggle, the Reno-Sparks Chapter is stronger than ever and finding new ways to stay engaged in building the union and serving their community.
Having qualified for $1,000 under the Executive Board’s Community Fund program, the Reno-Sparks retirees recently donated $250 each to four groups serving their community: the Veteran’s Guest House, the Washoe County Seniors Meals on Wheels, the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Not about to rest on their laurels, these retirees have used a raffle at their monthly meetings to build up a charitable war chest. In November they used that account to donate $600 to the Washo County Seniors Meals on Wheels and $250 to the Evelyn Mount food program in Reno. Still not content, they passed the hat at that same November meeting and raised another $250 for Evelyn Mount—$500 in all.
Why all this interest in helping others?
“That’s what we do,” said Chapter President Ron Borst. He credits the IBEW 1245 Executive Board for providing units a pathway to do good in their local communities. “It’s a good role model and we’ve been able to sweeten the ante even more out of our own finances,” he said.
Their gifts to the community are made possible by small contributions made by the large number of people who attend the chapter’s monthly meetings—about 30 attended in November.
Occasionally, though, a larger donation will materialize anonymously.
“We have someone who will hand us a hundred dollars at the meeting and say ‘You’ll forget who gave this to you,’ ” says Borst.
The Chapter’s other officers are Rita Weisshaar, vice president, and Bob Vieira, secretary, with administrative assistance from Kathie Preston.
Chapter members are proud of the role many of them played in battling to preserve their retirement benefits five years ago, but they are equally proud that they’ve remained engaged in their union.
“Everyone in the IBEW was watching us during our battle with NV Energy to see what we were going to do and if we were going to prevail,” said Borst. “We did, and we’re moving on. Even though we got that battle won we’re still active and we’re still around—we haven’t disappeared!”
Borst says the IBEW provides the “foundation for all that we do in our club” and it’s clear that the retirees are not going to turn their backs on the union principle of solidarity.
“We are the lucky ones and we can help the less fortunate than we are,” said Borst. “Not everyone had the chance to work under a good union contract.”