The following story – “Weekend work for a worthy cause: IBEW 38 electricians help rehab duplex for Amanda Berry” – was published in the October 2013 edition The Labor Citizen…
The electricians are part of a larger contingent of volunteers and charitable groups trying to help the young mother re-start her life.
Berry, along with Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus, were held captive by convicted rapist Ariel Castro for nearly a decade in a Cleveland home on Seymour Avenue. Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges for kidnapping and rape in connection with the women’s captivity.
Castro, 53, committed suicide Sept. 3 in prison, just weeks after he was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for the tortures inflicted on the three women.
Jamie Mance, a 17-year journeyman electrician with Local 38, said he was contacted by the group working on the home when the original electrical contractor backed out. An entire duplex is being completely rehabiliated to allow Berry and her sister to stay close but each maintaining their own space.
Mance, 42, has coordinated the electrical work, which has included ripping out the old wiring and installing an entire new electrical system.
By his count, Mance said 20 different union electricians have been to the home. Some have been there once, others six or more times. The work is done in the evenings and weekends. The goal is to have the home ready by early November so Berry can get settled before the holidays, Mance said.
“We’ll meet that deadline, I’m sure,” he said. “It’ll be great to let her start her new life.”
“This is a great thing you guys are doing by volunteering your time and skills there,” Meaney said. “I also want to thank Leff Electric, J. Lombardo Electric and Signature Electric for donating material to help make this project possible.”
When talking about the volunteer work, Mance repeatedly said no one is looking for any accolades.
“Nobody’s there for any type of recognition,” Mance said. “We don’t want or need a pat on the back.”
Without getting too specific, Mance said there was a time during his apprenticeship where he was struggling, but he received tremendous support from his fellow union brothers.
“They really helped me in my time of need,” he said. “This truly is a brotherhood. And for me personally, I like to do whatever I can to help others. anyway I can pay back for the help I received.”
Mance, the proud father of two adult daughters, added that the members re-wiring the duplex have received more than enough of a reward for their efforts merely by seeing the look on Amanda’s face. She has visited the home a few times with her sister, and even helped out a bit
with the demo work, he said.
“You see that smile on her face…that’s all you need,” Mance said.