Mission names Puyallup Machinist 'Volunteer of the Year'

A Machinists Union member has been honored for forging a strong link between his union and The Rescue Mission in Tacoma.

PUYALLUP – A retired Machinists Union member from Puyallup has been honored  by The Rescue Mission in Tacoma as one of its Volunteers of the Year.

Vennie Murphy was presented with the award at a Rescue Mission luncheon in Puyallup on Nov. 2.

Mission CEO David Curry praised Murphy, who has volunteered in the mission’s Tacoma kitchen since the ‘90s, and presented him with a plaque honoring his service.

“I don’t know of anybody who’s had as much faithfulness about serving, and has been so influential in bringing in other people to serve,” Curry said.

Curry said Murphy has forged a strong link between the Tacoma mission and the Machinists Volunteer Program, which is the community service arm of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle.

“Vennie has invited us to be part of their organization, and they’re part of ours,” Curry added. “We need lots of Vennies.”

Volunteers from the union now prepare and serve breakfast to the mission’s homeless clients two weekends each month, and they periodically throw Sunday dinners there as well.

The mission serves about 1,000 meals a day to homeless people, and provides shelter to about 160 homeless children – as well as their parents – each night, Curry said.

About a quarter of the mission’s clients are from Puyallup, he said.

The mission’s volunteers are “critical to our success, and really in the deepest way possible, they’ve been part of life transformations for other people,” said Kari Engelson, who is the organization’s intern and volunteer director.

It wasn’t hard to find Machinists willing to help, Murphy said.

“Once they came down and did it, you didn’t have to invite them back,” he said “Once they saw what the need was, and how they could make a difference.”

Now retired from the Boeing Co., the Puyallup native said he plans to continue his volunteer work at the Tacoma mission.

“I really do enjoy it,” Murphy said. “It’s part of my life.”

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 33,000 working men and women at 48 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2011, members of the Machinists Volunteer Program gave more than 10,000 hours of their time to community service, while other volunteers collected more than $263,000 for Guide Dogs of America, the union’s charity of choice.

For more information about District 751, read the Machinists News.

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