July 10, 2014

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UUPers give back in LA

uupdate 7-10-14

Downstate Chapter members pitch in at a July 10 public service event in Los Angeles as part of the AFT Convention.

For Downstate member Redetha Abrahams-Nichols, the decision to spend an afternoon volunteering at a community center in South Central Los Angeles was an easy one.

“I’m here to help the community,” she said. “That’s what UUP stands for, helping our brothers and sisters.”

Abrahams-Nichols and nearly a dozen other UUPers joined unionists from across the country at the community center. Nearly 100 UUPers are in the city for the convention, which runs through July 14.

Two buses filled with AFT delegates took the 25-minute ride to All Peoples Community Center, which provides breakfast and lunch daily for more than 150 neighborhood kids who don’t have access to the meals when school is out.

UUPers spent three hours helping out in the hot afternoon sun, painting walls, rolling towels and moving and sorting large boxes of books donated by the nonprofit First Book—which provides free books for children in need.

“This is a chance to give back to the community,” said Downstate Chapter member Natalie Baker. “Some of us are very fortunate to have books where we need them, whereas other communities don’t have them. It’s important for us to share and give back.”

Abrahams-Nichols and Downstate Chapter member Nandika Ekanayake brought their daughters, 22-year-old Nilani Ekanayake and 16-year-old Payge Nichols, with them to volunteer.

Once the work was done, UUPers went inside and handed out books to groups of smiling kids, who each got an AFT shirt, backpack and five books. The kids were also treated to an outdoor carnival with food, games and music.

“I love doing this,” said Tom Tucker, Buffalo Center Chapter president and Outreach Committee co-chair, as he handed out books. “This is what makes it all worthwhile.”

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