Chapter 11 Challenges Other Chapters to Do the Same
Members of the SEA’s Chapter 11, at the New Hampshire Veterans Home, voted this month to contribute to the Benevolence Fund, and have issued a challenge to other chapters to do the same.
Chapter 11 President Michelle McDermott said the chapter made the motion and approved it at its January meeting.
“We made the motion to give $300 and also to give half of all chapter rebate moneys that we get,” McDermott said. “We also wanted to challenge other chapters to do the same.”
The SEA Benevolence Fund was created in 2009 by the SEA Board of Directors. It was developed in response to the Great Recession and in anticipation that many SEA members or their family members could face job loss, wage cuts, or become victims of the mortgage crisis. Unfortunately, four years in, donations to the program have dropped significantly. In November, we reported that the SEA’s Board of Directors was studying the program. SEA President Diana Lacey said the fund is as important now as it was then.
“We knew members were facing hard times and that some would fall through the cracks of our public assistance safety net programs,” Lacey said. “We knew our large union family would want to help each other out, too. So we created this fund as a vehicle to help members do just that. This fund is a good way to help each other but it needs people to donate to keep it going. If even 50 percent of members signed up to give $1 per paycheck, we would be amazed at the number of members we could help.”
McDermott said she was aware the fund was struggling, but the chapter’s decision primarily came because they weren’t sure how to handle chapter members’ requests for assistance.
“We have a fairly large chapter here and we’ve had a lot of employees come to us seeking financial assistance,” McDermott said. “As a chapter, we voted to refer them to Concord because we didn’t feel we had guidelines in place to decide who we could help and who we couldn’t. We’ve referred quite a few people to the fund and they’ve been very grateful.”
“I think we need to keep that fund available,” she said. “We need to help our own.”
McDermott said the chapter helps its own directly through its Friends Helping Friends program during the holidays.
“We started that a few years ago at Christmas time,” she said. “We provide assistance to our staff members that have fallen on hard times and could use help for Christmas gifts for their children.”
McDermott said that in addition to the donations from the chapter as a whole, they would be encouraging members to make regular donations through payroll deductions.
“It’s there for the good of our own people, and we need to support them,” she said.
Will your chapter answer the Veterans Home’s challenge and donate to the Benevolence Fund?