MDC Members District Bring 45,000 Bottles of Water to CT Veterans

On Aug. 17, Council 4 members from three affiliated local unions representing employees at the Metropolitan District (MDC) in Hartford gathered under the hot sun at the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) in Rocky Hill.

They were surrounded by trucks carrying 24 pallets containing 45,000 bottles of water—an extraordinary donation from the MDC that will support DVA programs for more than 200 veteran residents and patients at the DVA campus and veterans Stand Down 2020 events around the state on September 25.

The workplace leaders and members of Local 3713, 1026, and 184 loaded and delivered the water, including Marine Corps veterans and MDC utility maintainers Michael El-Hachem, Christopher Proudman, and Robert Moticka. All were honored to help the residents and staff at the DVA who continue to deal with the fallout from COVID-19.

“We as front-liners are proud that the MDC donated these much-needed cases of water,” said John Fleming, President of AFSCME Local 1026 (Supervisors). “We’re appreciative of our state’s veterans and we want to be a part of helping them out.”

Dean Gozzo, President Local 184 (Blue Collar/Trades), also echoed sentiments of gratitude.

“We’re happy to be able to help out the veterans at any time and are thankful for their service. This is a cause that’s important to us,” said Gozzo, who was joined by fellow MDC employees Rodney Andrews, President Local 3713 (MDC Office & Professional Employees); Chris Levesque, Chief Operating Officer of MDC; William DiBella, MDC Board of Commissioners Chair; and Fleming.

Andrews added, “For me, it’s a privilege to participate in this donation. This is a great example of how unions and their employers can give back to the community we serve.”

The Council 4 Veterans Committee, chaired by Service Representative Steve Curran, spearheaded this effort. With COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of the Council’s 17th annual Veteran’s Day picnic on Memorial Day weekend, Committee members were delighted to find other ways to lend a helping hand.

When Curran was notified that the Department of Veterans Affairs needed certain items (including bottled water), he turned to Council 4 Staff Representative Anthony Bento, who represents two of the MDC locals. Along with local union leadership, they reached out to the MDC.  

 “I’ve been involved with Council 4’s Veterans Committee for 15 years,” said Curran. “This is a small but significant way for our union members to pay it forward and support the veteran’s community.”

The donation of bottled water is not the first time the MDC, which provides essential water, sewer and related services to the Greater Hartford area, has stepped up to help people in need. Four years ago, the company and its unions collaborated to collect and personally distribute more than 3,000 crates of bottled water to the residents of Flint, MI, to help them cope with a water contamination crisis.

“We are honored to do our part to help Connecticut veterans in the midst of a public health crisis,” Levesque commented. “As we fulfill our mission during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t forget those who served our country and MDC is honored to support them and DVA events through this donation.”

Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi, a U.S. Army Veteran, was present to welcome everyone on campus and thank Council 4, the MDC and its unions. He emphasized how the pandemic has been hard on veteran residents and patients with limitations on visitation, mobility, and recreational activities due to various protocols being put into place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“While they are resilient, our veterans who have served and sacrificed have been negatively impacted, especially those with mental health and other underlying medical conditions,” Saadi explained.

“Donations like this show our veterans that they are remembered and appreciated by the community. Water is the essence of life and having access to individual bottles like this for our campus, recreation activities and community events improves hygiene and helps to mitigate potential spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19.”