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B.C. Steelworker Nancy McCurrach Wins Top Jefferson Award for Community Service

TORONTO – United Steelworkers (USW) member Nancy McCurrach of Port Coquitlam, B.C., has won a major North American community service award for her outstanding work in helping refugees.

McCurrach, a member of Telecommunications Workers Union, USW National Local 1944, was recognized Thursday, June 22, in Washington D.C., with a top honour for public service from the Jefferson Awards Foundation. The foundation, created in 1972, honours grassroots heroes who make meaningful contributions to their communities through their volunteer and charitable efforts.

McCurrach founded Tri-Cities Refugee Welcome Wagon, a group of friends and co-workers who felt compelled to help Syrian and Turkish refugees who are making Port Coquitlam their new home. The group raised $4,500 to pay for refugees’ urgent medical needs and to buy strollers, transit passes, food, and more. The group befriends and supports their new neighbours by eating meals with them, driving them to school and teaching them English.

“Nancy and her project represent what our union is all about: welcoming all with open arms and working for better lives for all people, regardless of where they come from,” said Leo W. Gerard, USW International President.

“We are humbled that a USW member has taken the Jefferson Award’s top award for the second-straight year, but the recognition isn’t why we’re so active in our communities. It’s because it’s the right thing to do,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.

McCurrach is a four-time cornea transplant recipient due to a rare disease called Keratoconus. Despite her own adversity, she volunteers tirelessly for many community organizations, including a group that uplifts women and girls who struggle with poverty and addiction. She also prepares meals to feed more than 60 women and children and plays games, mingles and shares compassion with those who are suffering in her community. 

“I’m so grateful that my union supports members like me who want to make a difference through community service,” McCurrach said.

“I’m so honored to be a national Jefferson Award winner, but even more honored to be a member of an organization that shares my values and works tirelessly to make the world a better place – at work and in the places where we live and work.”

The USW is a Champion with the Jefferson Awards Foundation, which is dedicated to building a culture of service through a variety of programs and awards. As a Champion, the union was able to create a formal structure to allow members and retirees to be nominated for Jefferson Awards and put a spotlight on USW Cares efforts in communities across North America. The program includes training to help build leadership and other skills through effective community service.

McCurrach was selected as the USW’s overall Jefferson Awards Foundation Champion volunteer for 2017. The union had over 150 nominations from each of its districts in the United States and Canada and from among its Steelworker Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR).

Other 2017 Jefferson Awards winners include:

Marien Landry, a member of USW/Syndicat des Métallos Local 6951 in Contrecoeur, Que. Landry collected $165,000 in donations for humanitarian projects and helped build 10 schools and renovate several others in Guatemala.

Darren Green, a member of USW Local 5328 in Hamilton, Ont., leads efforts to feed the homeless and volunteers at local shelters. He raised over $400,000 for food banks and organized a backpack event for underprivileged children in the community. Green also instructed anti-harassment courses at over 50 workplaces in Ontario and Alberta and leads anti-racism efforts.

Lena Sutton, Chapter 10, SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees), Hamilton. Sutton leads several volunteer projects, including raising $30,000 through motorcycle poker runs, assisting USW retirees with tax filings and helping retirees live in their own homes.

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For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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