Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson was presented her SOAR Jefferson Award by members of Local 480 and Local 9705 on Friday, including USW Local 9705 acting president Ron McKenzie. Submitted photo

United Steelworkers recognize Trail volunteer for years of selfless service

Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson is the recipient of the 2019 SOAR Jefferson Award

So many people living in Trail and the surrounding towns have gotten to know Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson after years and years of her selflessly volunteering at community gatherings too numerous to mention.

She is always willing to dig in and get her hands dirty, and she always does it in her joyful and charming way.

Plus she’s fun to talk to and really knows how to welcome people into whatever event she is helping with.

Now, much to her surprise, Eleanor was nominated by the local Steelworkers union – and won – a very prestigious award from the United Steelworkers (USW) called the SOAR 2019 USW Jefferson Award.

“Nominations go out every year for the Jefferson Award in recognition of outstanding commitment from an individual in public service,” began Jeff Schuepfer, Benefits Coordinator, USW Local 480.

After he read a union email several months ago giving members a heads up that the nomination period was open, the first person Schuepfer thought of was Eleanor. She is a retired member of USW Local 9705, the sister of Local 480, and Eleanor has long been part of SOAR which stands for Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees.

“I’ve worked with Eleanor at the markets and (other events) and thought here is a person who really goes out of her way,” Schuepfer told the Trail Times.

“So I put a bunch of information together and wrote a submission of all that she does. And I thought it was a long shot, just because District 3 is so big, it goes from Vancouver Island all the way to Manitoba and north,” he added.

“But I gave it a try and sure as guns she got it,” said Schuepfer. “It’s a prestigious award that very rarely comes our way, if it has at all. I think Eleanor is the first person in this Local to have achieved this. It’s a big deal.”

As the 2019 SOAR winner, Eleanor received a medal and plaque and $500.

In true Eleanor style, she paid it forward by donating all $500 to the Gordie Steep Sick Children’s Fund, which is a Local 480 charity that support families requiring assistance when travelling to receive medical care.

“I am very very humbled that I got this award,” Eleanor said. “I couldn’t believe it when I got the union (newsletter) and it was on the front page of it, I was just shocked.”

After many years and so much of her time dedicated to good works, why does she keep doing it?

“I think people should be part of public service if they can,” she shared. “It’s very rewarding in very humbling ways.”

Since 2015, the USW has partnered with the Jefferson Awards Foundation, recently renamed Multiplying Good, to celebrate Steelworkers who do incredible works of community service, and “to show the world that Steelworkers have big hearts.”

“Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson, just might be the most active Steelworker retiree: she has organized her community’s annual Terry Fox Run, has fundraised for Relay for Life, is heavily involved with her church’s service and philanthropy, volunteers for Silver City Days, cooks and serves food for junior hockey teams and fans at Cominco Arena, provides support to struggling community members at Trail Association for Community Living, is serving her fourth consecutive term as a city councillor, and does so much more,” USW announced last month.

“She is truly devoted to building her community and Eleanor’s friends say her impact is priceless.”


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Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson was presented her SOAR Jefferson Award by members of Local 480 and Local 9705 on Friday in downtown Trail. From left: former USW 9705 president Mike Mozak; Local 480 Benefits Coordinator, and Eleanor’s nominator, Jeff Schuepfer; Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson; and acting USW Local 9705 president Ron McKenzie. Submitted photo

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