IBEW 1245 member and army veteran Erick Varela delivered 56 pairs of men’s and women’s boots at this year’s annual North Coast “Stand Down” event benefitting veterans in need.
“All of the boots we provided found homes with the veterans, including the female dress boots. Hopefully they will help these vets as they prepare and dress up for job interviews,” Varela said.
Over 400 veterans from across Humboldt County participated in the “Stand Down” (a military term that means “respite from battle”) at the county fairgrounds over two days in early October. Veterans comprise nearly 25% of Humboldt County population, and so the community decided to launch the annual fair in 2005 with the objective of providing essential services — including dental care, clothing, medical services, veterinary attention for pets, and job assistance — to needy vets who are struggling to transition back to civilian life.
The mission of the “Stand Down” is quite similar to the mission of the IBEW 1245 Veterans Group, which is what inspired Varela, a member of the group, to support the annual event in a unique way. He kicked off the union’s “Boots for Veterans” collection in early September, and over the course of the month, several IBEW 1245 co-workers, staff and members pitched in by donating pairs of new and gently used boots.
The “Boots for Vets” drive is just one of several charitable endeavors that members of the union’s Veterans’ Group have undertaken since the group came together in 2013. To learn more, visit www.ibew1245vets.com.
–Eileen Purcell, IBEW 1245 Staff Organizer