A very special solidarity request from UAW 3520

Helping a young man live the dream

We received a different sort of solidarity request this week from our brothers and sisters at UAW Local 3520 in Cleveland, NC. They asked us if we would let folks know about the son of one of their members who has earned the chance of a lifetime. We are hoping you will help meet their challenge.

LeTonya Sockwell is a member of Local 3520 but is currently laid off from her job at the Freightliner plant. Her son, Wakil Harrison, 15, was recently profiled for an article by the Salisbury Post. According to the paper, Wakil, a boy scout and stellar student and athlete at Salisbury High School, has been recognized for his achievements with invitations to participate in three summer leadership programs – including a very special, life-changing opportunity:

Wakil is hoping to also attend the People to People ambassador program, a summer abroad program designed to immerse students in other cultures, meet local families, teach them new languages and meet government officials.

Unbeknownst to Wakil, he was nominated by someone at the school to be a part of the program. He and his mother don’t know who nominated him for that program, either.

“There’s always somebody that you don’t know, someone who is keeping an eye out for you. Someone you don’t know may bless you,” Sockwell said.

The cost is $7,200 for the summer program, which will also garner Wakil high school and college credits.

He, along with 15 to 20 other students throughout the region, will spend time in Italy, France and Greece from June 29-July 19.

The cost pays for tours, meals, and room and board.

“We get access to places that even tourists don’t go. We have to do a journal and write what we bought and who we saw,” Wakil said.

Sockwell has been working as a substitute teacher during her layoff, and her family has been able to cover the costs for Wakil’s participation in the leadership conferences. But the cost of Wakil’s trip to Europe is something she and her family cannot afford.

That’s where we come in.

UAW Local 3520 is raising funds to pay for Wakil’s enrollment in the People to People ambassador program. To-date they and others have raised $1,720 toward the $7,200 needed. You can support Local 3520’s fundraising drive by making a secure contribution online at https://payment.peopletopeople.com/ and entering the student’s last name (Harrison) and delegate ID (10154118).

If enough folks reading this article could donate just $10, it would go a long way toward making up the difference. If your local union has funds for charitable giving and solidarity support, consider making a motion at your next meeting to support Local 3520’s fundraiser.

For more information, contact UAW Local 3520 President Corey Hill at 704-878-7584.

Pictured above: Wakil Harrison (right) with his mom and UAW member, LeTonya Sockwell. Photo by Jon C. Lakey, Salisbury Post. Buy a print.