“They did an amazing thing. We’re humbled by what they pulled off,” says Eva Shields, chair of Atikokan Youth Initiative, of the tradespeople working on the AGS biomass conversion who went to bat to raise money for the youth centre.
Their donations and fund-raising efforts have so far put over $10,000 into youth centre coffers.
The evening fund-raiser held at MoTown in September netted $7,432, and a pay day draw organized at the work site produced another $2,725.
“This is from all the workers to all the kids of Atikokan. That’s what it’s all about,” says ironworker Chris Jarabak, a lead organizer of both efforts. He’s from Thunder Bay, stayed at Sapawe with Moe and Ev Tribe while working here, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“I wouldn’t mind coming back there to work… Ev and Moe are really good people.”
Electrician Brian Rayner and his family (he, too is from Thunder Bay), pipefitter Terry Melnyk, labourer Fillipo Arella, and boilermaker Curtis DeGagne (and family) were the other key organizers in the joint trades’ fund-raising efforts.
Workers from at least ten different trade unions got involved, and while they all worked together on both the youth centre project and the AGS conversion, there was also a lively, good-natured competitive spirit among the different trades.
“Just make sure you say it was the ironworkers who got it started,” said Jarabak.
Officially, the trade organizations included the Ironworkers Local 759; Insulators95 (International Assoc. of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, Local 95); UA 628 (United Assoc. of Journeyman and Apprentices of Plumbing and Pipefitting, Local 628); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 402; Boilermakers International Brotherhood; Millwrights, Local 1151; International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793; International Association of Sheet Metal Workers, Local 397; Laborers International Union, Local 607; and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 1669.
They got their employers, and some Thunder Bay businesses, involved in supporting the cause, including Ontario Power Generation, Fox Constructors, Nordmin Engineering, AECON, Skyway Canada, C.A. Ferguson & Sons, Marostica Motors, the Power Centre, Swingers Driving Range (Tom Owen), and Molson’s.
Maureen Ogden (Mo’s Catering and MoTown), the DeGagnes, Roselyn Ritchat, Robert Potts, and a big group of local businesses led the Atikokan support for the effort.
For the September do, Home Hardware, XY Paddle, Atikokan Foodland, Johnson’s ESSO, Dan’s Shuttle (Danny Henderson), the Progress, the Enchanted Florist, Robin’s Donuts, the Shelter of Hope, Lorraine’s Garden Centre and the AEDC all contributed prizes. George Neagle, Roy Lusignan (Deeboo), Reno Jack, Todd Cappelletti, Al Chernosky, and welder Wes provided the live entertainment.
All of that effort will pay off big time for the youth centre. It’s a credit to all the tradespeople who came here to work that they left a little something extra behind that will be appreciated for years.
“I know how important it is for the kids,” says Jarabak. “If you’ve got a place to go, you stay out of trouble.”