October 24, 2017

Week one: Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas

Billy Edington of United Steelworkers (USW) Local Union 9-288 and Diana Mejia of Wind of the Spirit were the first two SERTs deployed to Houston, Texas. On Monday and Tuesday, Mejia and Edington visited Fe y Justicia Worker Center to prepare curriculum, organize donation boxes, develop packages for 220 workers and practice facilitation methods with worker-trainers. They also attended a community outreach meeting with Sharon Beard of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and conducted a class for clean-up workers on Tuesday evening. The trainers worked together to conduct a “lessons learned” themed evaluation that night. On Wednesday the SERTs purchased water for those in need, and participated in another community outreach disaster relief meeting.

Mejia and Edington spent Thursday visiting Home Depot and providing over 100 NIEHS booklets that provide information on how to protect oneself while responding to disasters like hurricanes. They reached out to more than 100 workers either one-on-one or in small groups to discuss dangers associated with mold remediation and other challenges faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. N95 respirators and NIEHS booklets on mold remediation were handed out to ensure worker health and safety. The conclusion of the day consisted of the construction of another 100 (plus) relief bags for workers, and a community outreach meeting.

The following day the SERTs continued their outreach to folks at Home Depot and the surrounding areas, speaking to groups and individuals, again providing over 100 more NIEHS booklets on mold remediation, N95 respirators and insect repellent. They built more kits containing band aids, alcohol wipes, sunscreen, booklets, surgical masks, N95 respirators, insect repellent, granola bars, bottled water and snack packs (including tuna salad and crackers) for distribution to workers the following week. Finally, Mejia and Edington attended a seminar at the University of Texas Health Science Center and facilitated a training for 38 students.

The weekend consisted of the SERTs facilitating training twice in the morning and once again in the late evening on Saturday. They then met with leadership from a local church and scheduled a series of OSHA Outreach courses, 10-hour in construction and general industry, on Sunday.

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