A Life-Changing Vacation


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The UAW Family Scholarship Program Helps Connect the Dots

For the Templeman family of Des Moines, Iowa, their visit to Black Lake to participate in the UAW Family Scholarship Program started out quiet enough.

They flew to Detroit and then boarded a bus for a very quiet, four-hour ride to the Walter and May Reuther UAW Family Education Center in Onaway, Michigan. The families on the bus didn’t know each other and were from different parts of the country and different walks of life.

Local 450’s Curt Templeman says his children Sarah, Libby and Hannah, as well as his wife, Denise, enjoyed the classes at the UAW Family Scholarship Program.
Just as important was the time they spent with fellow UAW members while out of the classroom.

The return trip was a lot different, Local 450’s Curt Templeman said. It was a fun — if a little bit noisy — trip to the airport where new friends said farewells, but not goodbyes. The connections and friendships made at Black Lake are lasting ones.

“That return trip made a four-hour ride seem like a one-hour ride,” said Templeman, the local’s shop committeeman at the John Deere plant in Ankney, Iowa.

Those who have participated in the program can easily identify with Templeman’s recollections of his week in Northern Michigan in 2015. The Family Scholarship returns this summer after a one-year hiatus. Family Scholarship participants attend age-appropriate classes designed to teach them more about their union, the labor movement and the importance of both to all Americans. The classes are conducted in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with plenty of recreation and time to get to know other UAW members and the issues important to them. The International pays for meals, lodging and transportation.

“The Family Scholarship Program is designed to teach our members about the history and importance of the labor movement and the UAW,” said UAW President Dennis Williams. “But it’s more than that. It’s also about learning together as a family, and taking advantage of the beauty of Black Lake in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.”

Templeman, a welder, brought his three daughters, Sarah, 14, Libby, 12, and Hannah, 8, as well as his wife, Denise. Templeman said his wife leans right on many issues, but the week isn’t about politics; rather it’s about how we as union members make connections within and outside the union to ensure people know the importance of collective bargaining, health care, health and safety and other issues affecting working people.

During the day, Templeman attended classes with his wife, while his daughters went to their age-appropriate classes.

“They really enjoyed the classes,” he said. “They really enjoyed the teachers.”

His wife understands a lot more about the importance of collective bargaining and why governments and corporate interests want to limit or even eliminate it.

Templeman’s daughters loved the experience so much that they are begging him to find a way to get back to Black Lake. And sometimes, it is helpful to hear about important issues from someone other than your parents. Templeman said his girls learned more in a week about the importance of unions than he could teach them in 10 years.

“I loved that they had family units that we stayed in while being there,” Sarah Templeman said. “I was with kids that were 11 to 14. We learned a lot while being in class there. We learned about laws that were made due to accidents that had happened. If we weren’t learning, then they had us doing some other activities. Those  include hiking, swimming, playing in the gym, and one day we learned how to golf.”

The young lady added that her favorite family nights were karaoke night and bingo night. On the final day, her class made a skit about what they learned while being there.

For Curt Templeman, the combination of his family learning about the labor movement and their union was a blessing.

“I can never repay the debt because it was well worth the time,” he said.

If you would like to be considered for the 2017 UAW Family Scholarship Program, fill out the form on the opposite page and mail it to the address noted on the application. For additional information, go to uaw.org/the-2017-family-scholarship-program/

Vince Piscopo

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