87-year old Teamster retiree volunteers with the homeless

What will you be doing when you retire? Fishing? Playing with the grandkids?

If you’re Earl Randall, a member of Local 70 for 42 years,  you’ll be volunteering to help the homeless people in your community, even as you approach age 88.

Earl has a long history with the Teamsters. He was an officer for 13 years, served as a Trustee, was the Warden for Joint Council 7, and worked for the Western Conference of Teamsters for a spell. He worked much of his career at Sterling Transit, where he was a heavy duty driver and shop steward.

As former Joint Council 7 President Chuck Mack says, “Earl was always there for the members. He never saw a picket line that he would think about crossing.” In fact, Earl served as the cook for many a strike line.

Earl says he started working with homeless people in Oakland, providing Thanksgiving and Christmas meals at the union hall, and even getting a few people into the union. After retiring 30 years ago, Earl now lives in Tuolumne, and he is still called to help the homeless.

Earl was one of several people and groups who took part in a collaborative effort that began in June to clean up homeless encampments on the outskirts of downtown Sonora. The project was spearheaded by the homeless themselves, with the help of the Jamestown-based nonprofit organization Give Someone a Chance. Waste management donated two 40-yard trash containers for the cleanup effort. Earl volunteered his truck to haul the containers.

Having clean water is also mandatory for the 150 or so people who live on that land. Earl says he fills containers with about 40 gallons of water from his faucet to bring up to the encampment every other day. He’s working on getting a 3,000 gallon tank so they can have water on the premises, and he’s testified to the Tuolomne County Board of Supervisors to get their support for providing trash containers and portable toilets. He also drives his station wagon filled with clean clothes to distribute alongside the weekly shower truck.

Last month, Earl bought a barbecue and a picnic table and bench for the encampment. Give Someone a Chance matched that donation. That effort launched another fund-raiser which netted $11,000 for the organization. “I go to the camp almost daily to check on it and make sure everything’s under control,” he says.

When talking with the Sonora Union-Democrat, the reporter says Earl’s eyes welled up with tears when asked why he feels compelled to help the homeless. “It’s a hard thing to say because other people don’t have what I have,” he said. “I haven’t forgotten where I came from and I feel sorry for them. I enjoy doing this…helping people.”

Earl says he still keeps in touch with everybody at Local 70. “The union is always in my heart.”

To donate to Earl’s cause, go to givesomeoneachancetc.org.