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Decatur-area unions give back through We Are One Community fund charity grants

Decatur-area unions give back through We Are One Community fund charity grants

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DECATUR -- The We Are One Community fund is built on the tradition of collective giving and philanthropy among working families.

“It's charity through solidarity, the little guy doing good,” said Amy Rueff, the We Are One Community Advisory Committee chair. “Labor unions have been doing that when they see coworkers in trouble.”

The We Are One Community effort takes that generosity to the next level, providing funds to local groups that assist working families or offer job-training programs.

The awards are distributed each year on Labor Day during the group's picnic held at the large pavilion in Fairview Park after the Decatur Labor Day Parade.

A total of $15,100 will be given to Macon County charities this year. The presentation of $10,500 in grants to eight local organizations will take place at the picnic. Another $4,600 in designations, which are donor-requested, will be mailed to 13 other charities in Macon County.

Among the recipients is Good Samaritan Inn.

Executive Director Rev. Stacey Brohard said Good Samaritan Inn will use the  $1,500 donation for its Mercy Programs, which provide field skills and workplace expectations to those who regularly visit the food kitchen and others.

The program includes culinary training, made possible through a partnership with Richland Community College's culinary program, horticulture and property maintenance, teaching growth of local foods, harvesting, marketing and sales and training in small engine repair.

the Mercy Programs teach interviewing, employer expectations and interpersonal skills. The program has involved over 100 students since 2015, according to Brohard.

Launched through a partnership between the Decatur Building & Construction Trades Council and Trades & Labor Assembly, the We Are One Community fund has been raising money since 2011. Rueff said donations have grown tremendously, from a total of $3,000 given its first year to $20,600 in 2018. Last year's picnic was attended by over 2,500 labor union members.

Donations are made possible each year through continued union support. Several groups contribute through various means like payroll deduction, giving one dollar a week or through donation-matching.

“It pulls us all together to do something good,” she said. “When a lot of people give a little, it adds up.”

An additional $4,600 in designations will be mailed to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club of Decatur, Salvation Army, Decatur Power Tumblers, Homework Hangout, CASA, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, St. Mary’s Hospice, DOVE, Shriners Hospital, Special Olympics and Macon County Animal Shelter.

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