Helen Miller and Ida Scineaux

ACORN Personal Writings

Santa Fe    Back in the USA it takes some time learning how to sleep again and of course catching up with all of the changes around us.  

    Keith Kelleher, head organizer of SEIU Local 880, one of the pillars of the ACORN family of organizations, sent me a note from Montreal, where the SEIU International Executive Board is meeting.  He reported that they made quite the appropriate to-do over the retirement from the IEB of the great leader Helen Miller, President of Local 880 for the last number of years when their growth went through the roof making 880 one of the largest locals in SEIU.  She had been the first home-care worker ever on the board for the last 3 years.  Having worked with Helen for years and been the beneficiary of grace and good wishes a hundred times, it brought a huge smile to my face that in her last words to the IEB she told them to “organize, organize, and organize!”  In an equally happy note, Keith was also then appointed to the IEB in a much deserved move, so the flame can continue to be carried by a peoples’ warrior for years into the future!  Helen will still have to lead the singing at the Local 100 — Local 880 Annual Staff-Leadership Retreats that we have now done for 20 years or so, and she will still have to give out the awards for 880 at the YE/YB Banquet for all staff, so importantly she is still continuing to do the important things!

    Speaking of Local 100, fifteen years ago when we were being subpoenaed by the federal grand jury in Louisiana because some DOL investigators during the 1st Bush Era thought there must be something wrong with a labor union that was "committed to social change" and had a copy of Gary Delgado’s classic work, Organizing the Movement:  The Roots and Growth of ACORN in his official file supposedly “proving” that Local 100 was created to create change.   [We would have just plead guilty to that except that it is not illegal for workers to organize for change!]  We had to copy about 50 boxes of financial records to return to the grand jury.  They all had to be numbered and sequenced.   CCI — Citizens’ Consulting, Inc. — which does all of the bookkeeping for Local 100, ACORN, and many other non-profits, hired a woman named Ida Scineaux as a temp to help with the copying then and make the deadline.  She worked hard and in the way of these things, Ida ended up working in almost every department and position at CCI over the years.   Years pass in the way of time, and Ida was washed up with the rest of us after Katrina in Baton Rouge.  She ended up having some health problems and undergoing treatment for months at M.D. Anderson in Houston and living there with one of her daughters.  Not long ago she returned to work.  I heard she was back and went upstairs to welcome her “home.”  She looked great and was in great spirits with her fun laugh and wink for me.  I was shocked several days ago while a world away to get a couple of emails that the breast cancer had come back, and Ida had passed away with her family in Baton Rouge.  We hadn’t even gotten her all the way back to New Orleans, but she’s home now.  I’ll miss her.

Helen Miller, President of Local 880