PHOTO CAPTION: (L to R) Denise Wood, Local 163 financial secretary; Alfreada Wallace, Local 163 vice president; Tamieka Andrews, Westland Samaritas facility coordinator; Ralph Morris Jr., Local 163 president; Malisa Donner, Local 163 Women’s Committee chair.
If the community struggles, we struggle, too
(WESTLAND, Mich.) – Life is a little easier now for dozens of homeless families served by the Samaritas Center emergency shelter in Westland, Michigan, thanks to the efforts of caring members at UAW Local 163 in Westland. With the help of the local’s Women’s and Community Services committees, the 3,000-member strong local donated money, construction help and carpentry skills to transform the center’s community room, adding air conditioning, new paint and flooring, and a gaming system and foosball for the kids. Money was raised with a gate drive and T-shirt and mug sales throughout the local. Local 163 also includes center residents in community gatherings at the local.
Local 163 President Ralph Morris says the community room is dated and bare bones, so the Women’s and Community Service committees started there with the renovations. The goal was to make it more welcoming and make it feel more like home. “Our members have always gone above and beyond to help the most vulnerable. We understand how difficult things can be when you’re struggling, how you can have a job and still be homeless. We’re trying to make it better for everyone,” said Morris. Why? “If the community struggles, we struggle, too.”
The Samaritas Center serves 85 to 120 families a year with temporary shelter and permanent housing assistance. Local 163’s members work at a variety of UAW-represented facilities including Detroit Diesel, Detroit Axle, GM Powertrain, Oakwood Group auto supplier, Lakeland Rehab Center and JLL (Jones Lang Lasalle).
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