Spotlight On Union Community Action: The USW’s Women Of Steel Chapter Raises $3,000 For Cradle Beach & Gathers 40 Volunteers Who Worked Day-Long ‘Sprucing Up’ Landscaping & Flower Beds At The Special Needs Children’s Camp
(ANGOLA, NEW YORK) – They say no one has bigger hearts than Union Members and that point was recently underscored when a group of 40 volunteers - led by the United Steelworkers’ (USW) District 4’s Women of Steel (WOS) Chapter, headed to Cradle Beach to help spruce up landscaping and flower beds on the grounds of the Special Needs Children’s camp that’s located just south of Buffalo.
And, they also brought with them a check for $3,000 - raised locally by the by WOS to help Cradle Beach, which unites individuals and families with a focus on empowering children with special needs and the underserved to become their best selves, and offering opportunities for life-changing experiences in a safe and inclusive environment at its Western New York facilities on Old Lakeshore Road in the Eire County Town of Angola.
“Let me tell you that I have ‘not had a lot of exposure to Labor Unions, but what I saw was a real and wonderful Sisterhood and I am very proud to have had them at Cradle Beach,’” Cradle Beach CEOP Ann-Marie Orlowski tells WNYLaborToday.com.
“Their ‘commitment and sacrifice to come out and make a difference and get our grounds up to speed - we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.’ And for them to also make a monetary donation - ‘it was incredible.’ What ‘wonderful’ support. ‘We owe them a debt of gratitude,’” Orlowski said.
Cradle Beach was founded in 1888 as The Fresh Air Mission with the sole purpose of serving underprivileged children from the City of Buffalo. Then in 1946, the summer camp program took its first group of children with special needs.
Cindy Marlow (pictured below), who serves as Chair of the USW’s Western New York Regional Council’s WOS Chapter, tells Your On-Line Labor Newspaper that it was an honor to serve “such a fantastic organization” as Cradle Beach.
“We worked on flower and vegetable gardens, planted flowers ‘to make it all look beautiful,’” Marlow said. “We ‘spruced it all up - it was a big love effort.’”
There were about 40 individuals - women and men - who took part in the effort, including a great number of WOS Members and Members from a number of Western New York United Steelworkers (USW) Locals, including some from the Buffalo area and as far south as the Cattaraugus County City of Olean (Cutco Cutlery).
“It was ‘awesome.’ We had Sisters from the Cutco Plant, from Sumitomo Rubber (in Tonawanda). We also raised ($3,000) from gate collections to benefit Cradle Beach,” Marlow continued. “It is ‘wonderful to get out there (in the communities where USW Members live) to let people know Unions aren’t bad, that we give back to our communities.’ And, ‘we’re blessed to give back with so many people hurting.’ It’s also ‘wonderful to show so much solidarity.’ Our Women of Steel (group) ‘was designed to step up to the plate and become more active - which allow us to grow.’”
Ann Flener-Gittlen serves as USW Director for Women of Steel. She made the trip up from Pittsburgh to take part in the local WOS Chapter’s effort at Cradle Beach.
“Cindy (Marlow) has been inviting me to come up (to Buffalo) and I was ‘fortunate’ (to make it). This was our ‘first’ get-together since (the beginning of the) COVID (19 Pandemic) ‘and I was thrilled to volunteer in such an effort.’ It was such a ‘huge’ turnout. This is such a ‘great testament’ (to Marlow’s leadership). ‘It was inspiring and for me, this is what our (USW) Membership is all about,’” she said.
“And, ‘it is also important for our Members to be visible (in the community) and what a better way to give back.’ It ‘shows’ the Labor Movement ‘is part of your’ community. We are ‘your’ neighbors ‘and this help builds community.’ We ask that our Sisters ‘get active and this was inspiring,’” Flener-Gittlen said.
What Cradle Beach offers immediately connected Flener-Gittlen to the site that was chosen for community service by the WOS, since she herself has a special needs daughter, who is now 43.
“I was ‘thrilled’ to have volunteered to help such a facility,” she said.
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: All Photos That Appear With This Labor News Report Are Courtesy of the United Steelworkers’ (USW) Women of Steel (WOS) Group Via Social Media Postings.