Union volunteers unite to help couple keep home

BOTHELL – A Bothell couple who had been threatened with losing their home is resting a little easier, thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the Machinists Union and United Way of Snohomish County.

“This is really incredible,” said Darold Thomas, the homeowner. “They are a team of people making a real difference in the lives of others.”

Thomas worked for the Boeing Co. for more than 20 years as a test operator in the Everett wire shop, where he tested wire bundles. About a year ago, he took a medical leave of absence from the company, battling a number of health issues that have left him too weak to work.

The home in Bothell where he lives with his wife, Angela, has a second-story deck. For years, it remained unfinished, just one of those projects he never got around to doing.

It became a serious issue this year, however, when his homeowners insurance got canceled. An inspector saw the unfinished deck, with no handrails, and deemed it a liability hazard, Thomas said.

And once the insurance policy was canceled, Thomas stated hearing from the bank that holds his mortgage.

“The bank was sending me notices that I had to show them a certificate of proof of insurance,” he said. “I was trying to get new insurance, and I was having problems because of things like the deck isn’t done.”

Thomas’ father, Robert Thomas of Lake Stevens, is a retired Boeing worker and community volunteer. He had an idea of where to turn for help.

“My dad was telling me he could get some friends together and help finish this deck that was unfinished in my house for the past 10 years,” Darold Thomas said. “I didn’t now what he was talking about or who he was talking to.”

Who he was talking to was the Snohomish County United Way and the Machinists Volunteer Program, which is the community-service arm of Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

On June 3, 25 volunteers from District 751 and other unions affiliated with United Way came out to finish installing the floor of the deck, and then put up railing around the deck – and some exterior stairs.

“This is the kind of project that we love to do,” said Jason Redrup, a District 751 business representative and MVP volunteer. “The fact that it’s a union brother just makes it that much better.”

Thomas said he was impressed with the fact that “not only do these people come out here to help, but it seems like they know each other and they’re having fun too. That was really cool.”

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 32,000 workers at 48 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2011, members of the Machinists Volunteer Program gave more than 10,000 hours of their time to community service, while other volunteers collected more than $263,000 for Guide Dogs of America, the union’s charity of choice.

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