Stomp Out Cancer

Symeon Tsoupelis, Owner of Symeon’s Restaurant; John Amicucci, Oneida Electric; Kristen Copeland, WKTV; and Patrick Costello, IBEW Local 43; present a check for the cancer center. Seated are phone volunteers.

Only a handful of people can claim they intimately know the buildings of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. The members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #43 (IBEW) are among them, says Assistant Business Manager Pat Costello. “We know Faxton St. Luke’s inside and out because we’ve installed and pulled wires everywhere in their buildings.”

But the folks at the IBEW know something more about Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and what it brings to our community. Costello notes, “The services at the Regional Cancer Center are second to none and we want the cancer center to know that we appreciate that they are there for us. We are blessed to have them.”

This sentiment and working with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) was the catalyst to a shift in the relationship between Faxton St. Luke’s and IBEW. A simple business relationship in conjunction with NECA that spanned decades blossomed into a partnership with even deeper meaning through the Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation in the early 1990s. “We started our charitable giving program to give back to the community organizations that serve our members and their families,” Costello said.

It became personal to IBEW when former business manager Ken Williams was being treated for cancer. “We visited him there many times during his treatment. The dignity, class and professionalism exhibited by staff was overwhelming to me,” Costello said. When Williams passed away, IBEW contributed the funds to help build the Outpatient Infusion Unit in his memory. In more recent years, the Stomp Out Cancer Telethon took on renewed significance for IBEW after losing business manager William Towsley to cancer.

John Kogut, president of Kogut Electric a long time Foundation board member, plays an active role with NECA and is an important part of the magic that has taken place between IBEW, NECA and the Regional Cancer Center. Because of a family history with the disease, he has taken a personal interest in supporting The Regional Cancer Center be serving as a conduit between the organizations.

“Both IBEW and NECA work together professionally and we both recognize how important the commitment to our community is,” said Kogut. “We’ve always had a very good relationship and working together along with the hospital is a natural extension to this.”

Kogut explained that he has been involved in IBEW’s Health and Welfare Fund for member Healthcare for more than 30 years. “It exists to benefit the health of members,” he says. “It makes sense that The Regional Cancer Center at Faxton St. Luke’s is among the organizations we support.”

That are 1,300 IBEW members in 11 New York counties with anchors located in Syracuse, Utica and Oswego. Costello says that almost 500 members, including retirees and their families, reside in the Utica area.

The funding IBEW provides for Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare comes from the dues of its working union members and the employers. A portion is earmarked for community contributions and those dollars are contingent on how many members are working, construction projects that are underway and, ultimately, the economy.

“We can’t create jobs, but we can man them when they exist,” said Costello. “Even through a down economy, our promises were kept to the organizations we support. We’re very proud of that.” The IBEW has a five-year commitment to Faxton St.; Luke’s Healthcare. They work to maintain a specific giving level each year and that can be challenging in the construction business.

Yet Costello was nothing but optimistic for the future of the relationship between The Regional Cancer Center and the IBEW. “There is no end in sight. As long as there’s money, Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation will be on the top of our list.”

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