Milestones have a way of making us feel reminiscent. NSUJL’s journey of seven years has been a long one; when you’ve come a long way, you should always remember where you started.
Everyone at NSUJL remembers where we started. We all know the story – one night, a group of linewives sat around a table. They wanted to help the then-recently fallen Lineman, John Plante’s, family. Shocked that no such organization existed, they founded one themselves.
From there, things began changing quickly. NSUJL’s official website, www.nsujl.org, was created. By March, a Board of Directors was elected and their first meeting was held. Soon after, NSUJL received their first donation from IBEW Local 222. Then, NSUJL acquired the rights to Climbing For Lost Linemen, a memorial ceremony founded in 2011; we would hold the 2nd Annual CFLL the following year, along with our first Linemen’s Rodeo. Another month passed, and NSUJL began attending Linemen’s Rodeo events across the county – our first rodeo was in April of 2012, at Duquin, Illinois with IBEW Local 702.
We were making a name for ourselves. People were talking about NSUJL; IBEW Locals across the US accepted us. The lineworker community very badly needed an organization like NSUJL. Injured linemen and families of the fallen needed support. So, we supported them and would continue to do so.
At this point, Ed Mings, a representative of the IBEW International Office in Washington, DC, had heard about NSUJL. After a very positive phone call, we were accepted by the IBEW and told to reach out to him as soon as our 501(c)(3) status was approved. Two weeks later, Bob Stuart of IBEW Local 53 invited us to the district meeting in Rend Lake, Illinois.
In June of 2012, less than 6 months after the concept of NSUJL was born, Rachael Johnson, Founder and President of NSUJL, released a touching statement regarding NSUJL’s growth. By this point, NSUJL had already helped 7 families. One particular statement from Rae says it all:
What started as a spinoff from the IBEW Wives Facebook group has now grown to a nationwide recognized non-profit social service organization dedicated to serving fallen/injured IBEW linemen/apprentices. In a few short months, we have proven to be more than just a Facebook page/group.
In October of 2012, we received an amazing letter from President Edwin Hill of the IBEW – he was recommending that all IBEW locals support us and contribute to our cause. At this point, we knew we had truly turned NSUJL into something great.
And just like that, a whole year had passed. We had helped 16 families in just one year. We had acquired over 100 members in just one year. Just before our 1st Birthday, NSUJL achieved 501(c)(3) status. We did this all in just one year. NSUJL persevered through every setback; in the end, we came out stronger every single time. If NSUJL could do this in just one year, what would NSUJL do within the coming years? Of course, the answer to that question is “Many great things.”
The rest of NSUJL’s story is long and detailed. We’ve had many more notable occurrences and milestones throughout our years. The fact that we still exist 7 years later is a testament to the strength of those Linewives around the table that night. It’s also a testament to the bond of the line community in general. We never would have made it past the first few months if it wasn’t for our supporters; we wouldn’t have hit any of these milestones without YOU. NSUJL has had so many supporters over the years that we could never mention every single person and entity in this article that has supported us through today. Words can never truly express what NSUJL does for the injured and the families of the fallen, and we can never truly thank our all of our supporters enough for supporting us so we can assist those in need.
So, simply put, thank you! This year, just like every year, we are reminiscent of where we started. Seven years ago, we started with hope and the intent to do a little good in this world. We’re here now, seven years later, because you collectively saw the need for an organization like NSUJL in our community, and you have all supported us beyond anything we ever thought was possible. The anniversary of NSUJL’s founding reminds us of our beginning; also equally important, we’re looking towards NSUJL’s future. With the rapid growth of NSUJL and your continued support, there are many more milestones to come, and many more birthdays to be had.