SEATTLE – Machinists Union District Lodge 751 raised nearly $299,000 for Guide Dogs of America in 2012.
District President Tom Wroblewski presented the California-based charity with a check for $298,949.66 at the annual Guide Dogs Banquet Nov. 17 in Las Vegas.
That’s a record one-year fundraising total for District 751, which is Guide Dogs of America’s top fund-raiser across North America.
“It is an honor to lead a district with so many selfless individuals,” Wroblewski said. “Barely a week goes by that someone isn’t giving their own time to support an event for Guide Dogs of America.”
The union raised the money through voluntary payroll deductions and through community fundraisers that included a poker tournament in Marysville, a golf tournament in Redmond, a fun run in Everett, a car show in Everett, a drag-racing event in Kent, a horseshoes tournament in Renton, a motorcycle poker run in Marysville and Lacey and prize drawings in Eastern Washington.
Wroblewski himself was honored at the banquet and presented with a 2012 “Gift of Sight” award recognizing his efforts on behalf of the organization.
Wroblewski has “displayed extraordinary loyalty to the mission of Guide Dogs of America,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, who presented the award.
Over the past four years, with Wroblewski as president, District 751 has raised more than $1 million for Guide Dogs of America. The charity used that money to breed, raise and train 24 guide dogs, to be paired with people from across North America who are blind or have impaired vision.
“At 751, before the last event of the year is completed, it’s only a matter of days before the next one is in the planning stages,” Wroblewski said as he accepted the award.
He said one of the highlights of his involvement with Guide Dogs of America came in 2010, when he attended the graduation ceremony for Dennis Meech and his guide dog, Lefty.
Meech is a District 751 Machinist from Goldendale, who was blinded in a motorcycle accident on his way home from work in August 2007.
“I got to see first-hand the joy our member had upon gaining back his freedom after receiving a guide dog,” Wroblewski said. “It was a great day, and a moment I will never forget.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 33,000 working men and women at 48 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2011, members of the Machinists Volunteer Program, the union’s community service arm, gave more than 10,000 hours of service to their communities.
For more information about District 751, read the Machinists News.