Volunteers build kayak shed at Georgia’s Hard Labor Creek State Park

Union tradesmen volunteer expert skills to build kayak shed at Georgia’s Hard Labor Creek State Park

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Visitors to the recreational lake at Georgia’s Hard Labor Creek State Park will find a new kayak shed along its shoreline, thanks to the hands-on, volunteer support of union electricians and elevator constructors who put their talents to work with Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground program in August. The USA, a national, conservation-focused non-profit organization based in Nashville, created the program to bring together skilled union volunteers to help rebuild, renew and restore America’s parks so they will be here to enjoy for future generations.

For three Saturdays, about 25 dedicated union volunteers from Atlanta’s IBEW Local 613 and IUEC Local 32 turned out in high temperatures to make the idea of the new kayak shed – three years in discussion – a reality.

Phil Delestrez, Resource Manager of Hard Labor Creek State Park, said the new kayak shed is an asset for park staff and visitors who participate in the park’s kayak program, which offers educational, historical outings.

“Until now, the program has been cumbersome to run with mile and a half treks to and from the lake and loading and unloading of the kayaks occurring several times per week,” Delestrez said. “The park staff was awestruck by the fact that folks would come out and just do a project like this. The guys really went above and beyond.”

“The new kayak shed at Hard Labor Creek State Park is a perfect example of how union members give back to their communities outside the workplace,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “These men and women bring specialized skills to the table to get the job done right. Our Work Boots on the Ground program helps meet challenges our cherished parks face due to tight budgets and limited manpower.”

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Kevin Moody, Business Manager of IUEC Local 32 who served as project coordinator on behalf of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, even put in one extra day on the project to add finishing touches to the kayak’s roof.

“There were a lot of guys out there who knew what the project needed,” said Moody, of Locust Grove. “They all worked well together and really seemed to enjoy it and have a lot of fun out there.”

Moody added that he brought his teenage son, Andrew, along to volunteer and learn more about the skilled trades.

“I wanted him to see what the jobs are, and it was an eye-opener for him,” said Moody. “It was good for him. After working out there all day, he finally figured out he wants to be on the engineering side.”

Also providing leadership on the project were Gene O’Kelley, Business Manager of IBEW Local 613, who arranged the donation of piling equipment, and Ken Wallace, a member of Jacksonville, Florida’s IBEW 177, who made the trip to volunteer with fellow union brothers on project.

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen.

For information about park programs at Georgia State Parks, visit: www.GaStateParks.org

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