Union volunteers fix furnaces for free in senior, low-income households

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Around 200 union pipe fitters spent their day off helping senior, low-income and disabled homeowners with furnace repairs and inspections for free on Saturday.

Project Heat's On is a community service program that helps residents prepare for winter by reducing energy costs and preventing heat failure. Each fall, union employees spread out across the Twin Cities, volunteering on their days off.

This year, nearly 100 homeowners between St. Cloud to the Twin Cities and Rochester were visited and helped for free.

"There are our neighbors," said David Ybarra in a press release. Ybarra is President of the Minnesota Pipe Trades Association. "It's part of our union culture to look out for each other and to give back when and where we can."

Minnesota Pipe Trades Association partnered with local Community Action Partnership agencies this weekend to support the amount of homes to help in their goal.

"It's amazing to see the difference it makes in these residents' lives," said Program Coordinator for Hennepin County's Community Action Partnership Shantell Buckhalton. "It's not only the home repair, but it's also knowing that someone's looking out for them."

Heat's On has been helping the community since 1986. According to a press release, "volunteers have donated more than 34,000 hours of skilled labor," equaling a value of nearly four million dollars.

Over the years, just under 8,000 homes have been assisted by nearly 7,000 union member volunteers.