Part of a quilt designed and sewn by members from all of the post offices on Cape Code.
Postal workers have also found volunteering and charity work and other leisure activities to be integral ways of both becoming a part of their larger community as well as a way of creating a stronger bond within the postal community through shared investment in time. There are several charitable events organized by the USPS and its associations and unions, such as the National Association of Letter Carrier’s canned food drive every second Saturday in May, walks and runs for NALC’s official charity, the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Unlike the more official activities and projects, the activities discussed below are among those organized as events or clubs on local or personal levels. Though postal workers do not organize all of these events for the purpose of getting to know their fellow employees, such events do help to create a feeling of solidarity in the union as well as the job itself. These acts not only connect postal workers to one another through their strong dedication and common interests, but also to the community in which they are such integral players.
One of the most widespread was the organization of Post Office Blood Banks in the 1970s. Blood banks collect and hold blood, as well as maintain a twenty-four hour watch to collect specific blood types, in case of emergencies. A Post Office Blood Bank serves all the employees, employees’ families, and retired employees and their spouses of the post office it is connected to.(1) In return for donations, employees and families receive free... ( read more )
1) “Postal Blood Banks Save Lives,” Postal Life, July-August 1970, pg. 4-7.
There are also a variety of less organized, regular activities that postal workers have been involved in. One of the most interesting and unique of which was a fashion show held by the Manhattan post offices as a morale booster to appeal to the 5,300 women employed by the USPS in New York City. Entrants were expected to design and produce outfits that would be modeled on a runway. The judges were not affiliated with the USPS to preserve impartiality. Of the sixty entrants, two were males. Even from the dress rehearsal, the women were possibly intimidated by the men’s ability to pose and vogue. Rightly so as prizes went to both men.(1)
1) “Fashions—A Man’s World,” Postal Life, March-April 1973, pg. 22-23.
An outstanding group from Springfield, MA met once a month in the early 1980s at a homeless shelter called Loaves & Fishes to prepare a meal for needy people in the worn down area. In 1983, Rose Pepper, a bulk mail acceptance supervisor at the Springfield Post Office suggested that the Women’s Program sponsor a meal. This idea was taken deeply to heart and met by a huge number of volunteers—so many in fact that “people were getting offended if they couldn’t get in on it.” On the first visit people were assigned for different segments of the day, after which they were supposed to leave. However, by the end, all eighteen had stuck around to continue helping. It was the first time a non-religious group volunteered at Loaves & Fishes, which brought a fair amount of press to the shelter, compelling other organizations’ employees to follow suit. While this was a great boon for the shelter and the needy, the Springfield Post Office somewhat jokingly lamented that they could not help out as much as they would have liked to, especially considering they had to self-impose a ten person limit per visit, so the kitchen would not get too crowded.(1)
1) “Soup Kitchen,” Postal Life, July-August 1983, pg. 11-12.
PUEBLO BIKERS UNITED
Another organization that focuses on charity is Pueblo Bikers United (PBU) in Colorado. The organization, established in 1978, is a non-profit motorcycle organization and puts off the air of being tough and standoffish with its Harley Davidson bikes, dark leather clothing, and fiery logo. But, it is dedicated to helping children. A former PBU president, Herman Arellano, was a postal veteran himself and in 1993 recruited another dozen postal employees.(1) PBU holds a flag football game against the Police Athletic League every fall in what they call the “Toy Bowl.” They charge a $5 admission fee and are thus able to buy and donate thousands of toys during their yearly December Toy Run.(2) Postal Life featured Arellano and Frank Chavez, a customer service supervisor, in its September/October 1993 issue because of PBU’s work towards buying a hand pedaled bike for a local boy born with spina bifida.(3) Chavez was sure to note, “It’s not just to ride bikes and get together. It’s to do something good for others. And that’s what keeps us in this year after year”.(4)
1) “Bikers Polish Image by Helping Needy,” Postal Life, September-October 1997, pg. 3.
Several postal union branches have also joined together to create quilts. Recently all the postal offices on Cape Cod, seventy-two in total, banded together to create a quilt. Each square was designed and sewn by members of each post office. When completed, they all joined together to complete the project. Each square displays an image of the post office or another image representative of the area.(1)
1) Interview, Dick Collins, July 2010
The Newark, DE American Postal Workers Union (APWU) local participates in a litter control program where they patrol a set geographic area. They gather about once a month to clean and collect trash. Vice President Tim Nolan, who participates in a wide variety of community service activities on his own, said that the litter control program consists of some of the most proactive members of the local and that their postal worker camaraderie “at least on a local basis, evolves from wanting to better serve the public.” The Newark, DE American Postal Workers Union (APWU) local participates in a litter control program where they patrol a set geographic area. They gather about once a month to clean and collect trash. Vice President Tim Nolan, who participates in a wide variety of community service activities on his own, said that the litter control program consists of some of the most proactive members of the local and that their postal worker camaraderie “at least on a local basis, evolves from wanting to better serve the public.”(1)
1) Interview, Timothy Nolan, July 2010