AFSCME members often take the extra step beyond serving their communities. They often act to secure the futures of the people they serve.
Take, for instance, Local 3025 (AFSCME Florida), whose members work at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, the only school of its kind in the Sunshine State. The local’s members awarded scholarships to two members of the graduating senior class. This is not unusual. Each year for the past five years, the local’s members have given scholarships to two graduating seniors who have chosen to attend technical or vocational schools.
“We do this because we feel it’s important to assist these students in achieving their goals,” said Local 3025 President Eyvolle Pamphile, a veteran AFSCME member of nearly three decades. “Not every student has the opportunity to attend a university, but trade schools teach important skills and put good jobs within reach at an affordable price.”
This year's scholarships were given to Hannah Anderson and Benjamin Daniel. Anderson, who is deaf, has work experience in day care and intends to attend First Coast Technical College to earn her certification in early childhood education. Daniel will be heading to Osceola Technical School, where he plans to study culinary arts and restaurant management.
The scholarships will help these students with the cost of textbooks and school supplies.
Local 3025 has made great strides over the past year under the leadership of Pamphile and Vice President Evan Birnholz. The local has more than tripled its membership and built power and solidarity among school employees – all of whom are certified to communicate with students via sign language. Several of the union stewards are deaf as well.
“As a longtime employee of FSDB and AFSCME member, I understand the value of union membership,” said Birnholz. “Because of our union we have the benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act, we have lunch hours, benefits, pay raises, and a voice here at our job. But we have also focused efforts over the past year to organizing new employees and expanding what we can do as union members to foster an atmosphere at the school of mutual respect in a unique and challenging environment.”
Pamphile said, “We have dignity in the work that that we do and that is why we give back to our students each year. We strive to have the life skills we teach them here serve them well when they leave.”