La labor de reciclado en la Refinería de Chevron hace realidad los sueños de los niños de Richmond

Chuck Leonard advised colleagues working at the Chevron Richmond Refinery Modernization Project site last Wednesday to wear sunglasses to work.

“We’re all construction workers,” he said. “Nobody wants to see us tear up.”

Emotions ran high when a 15-year-old girl from Richmond visited the work site during lunch hour, stood up in front of hundreds of laborers in the chow hall and broke down crying in the middle of stating, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.”

Denise suffers from a painful, debilitating bone infection. Recently, she received a well-deserved break from that reality when she was provided an all-expenses paid vacation to Hawaii.

The trip was fully funded through an industrious effort by the 1,000-plus laborers at the ongoing $1 billion Richmond Refinery Modernization Project. In the spirit of a project that is making the Refinery cleaner, safer and more efficient, union workers representing Cherne Contracting Corp. and Harder Construction noticed the amount of water bottles being used at the work site and decided to collect and recycle them for a good cause.

Along with matching funds provided by Chevron, Cherne and Harder, proceeds from the recycling effort were donated to The Make-A-Wish Foundation, providing two $10,000 checks to fulfill the wishes of two Richmond kids.

It wasn’t the first time this worker-led recycling effort, which has been going on for several years, has fulfilled wishes of local community members and it “won’t be the last,” Leonard said. However, last Wednesday hundreds of workers supporting the effort got to see firsthand the impacts of their contributions.

“I picked Honolulu because I always wanted to go there,” Denise stated before a sea of Cherne workers during the lunch hour. “I’d seen pictures, and I said, one day I wish I could go there. And through the foundation of Make-A-Wish and you guys, my dream to go to Honolulu came true.”

Leonard called the recycling effort a win-win effort for everyone involved.

“This is just something we can do to give back to the local community, and to feel good about us,” said Leonard, who works as a CSA for Cherne Corp. on the Modernization Project. “And we’re recycling at the same time. It’s a win for the community, a win for the environment, a win for Chevron, the building trades and everyone involved. An opportunity for everyone to feel good.”

Workers felt most gratified that they could help local residents like Denise enjoy a vacation from the treacherous impacts of her illness.

“If we can help individuals from this local community who have serious illnesses forgot, even for a minute, it’s worth it,” Leonard said.