By Sahid Fawaz

Union members in the Omaha area are reaching out to senior citizens for some much needed free help. reports:

"For 17 years, Barbara Smith has called the house near Olde Towne Bellevue home. Her husband died shortly after they moved in, so now it’s just the 87-year-old and her three cats.

But on Saturday morning, her dining room had a few extra guests: Three broad-shouldered electricians who volunteered their Saturday to provide free electrical repairs for low-income elderly homeowners.

After switching out a couple of her electrical outlets for safer ones, the guys posed for a photo and took a few moments to chat with Smith, chuckling at her attempts to set them up with her granddaughter.

Smith was one of 18 homeowners in Douglas and Sarpy Counties who received repairs as part of Powering Hope, a day when members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Local 22 labor union volunteer with Rebuilding Together Omaha, a nonprofit that provides home repairs and modifications to low-income and disabled homeowners.

Union members have come together for at least one day a year over the past 17 years to provide repairs for homeowners identified by the nonprofit. But it wasn’t until last year that the union members came up with a name for their day of service: Powering Hope.

Local 22 has since pledged to have similar events twice a year, providing expertise that Rebuilding Together Omaha might otherwise have to pay for. The nonprofit provides necessary materials.

'It’s really the perfect partnership,' said Lynette Farhart, Rebuilding Together Omaha’s executive director.

Because of the nature of the work and vulnerability of some of the homeowners, Farhart said, her organization seeks professional electricians to volunteer.

'To have more than 20 guys offer up their Saturday to do this work? It’s really amazing. It helps us out so much,' Farhart said."

For the rest of the story, check out the full piece at

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