Renee Call doesn’t live anywhere near Kentucky. A Local 728 member, she lives in Atlanta, where she works on TV and Film productions like The Walking Dead. Still, when she heard about the flooding and mudslides that have been wreaking havoc across the state, she knew she wanted to be there.
“If you look at the history of the Teamsters Union, we’ve always been the union that would step up, step in and take the bull by the horns,” Call said. “The Teamsters are a powerful union and this work is a continuation of our legacy because a disaster to one is a disaster to all. If we help just one person or one family, that’s still a big difference.
When Call heard about the need for volunteers in the Bluegrass State, she immediately made some phone calls to arrange for a trip out to the affected areas. After that, she secured a stake truck and headed north. When she arrived, she was struck by what she saw.
“The devastation and hazards have been unbelievable,” Call said. “It’s not my first time doing disaster relief, but it’s crazy how hard Eastern Kentucky has been hit by all of this. One guy I spoke to out here told me ‘this is just the beginning.’ Unfortunately, he’s right. This is just the beginning, because there is so much that goes into coming back from something like this. We’re here though, making a difference. Hopefully when people recover they will remember us.”
Call said one memorable moment came when she was clearing debris out of a house that belonged to a Teamster member’s father. The man lived by a creek, and the inside of his home had been completely flooded with mud. As Call was clearing debris from a home, she encountered a UPS Driver on his route. The UPS driver helped her finish clearing out the home in a gesture of generosity and solidarity.
“He was great,” Call said. “He helped me offload the last of it so I could get it to the flood relief center. Before he came along, I was doing it by myself.”
“It was an honor to work with Renee during our disaster relief mission,” said Brian Peyton, Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Director. “Her hard work, sacrifice, and loyalty to her union brothers and sisters embody what being a Teamster is all about.”