In early December, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 142 Business Manager Mark Potter along with additional Local 142 members volunteered their time with area youth for the second annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Fishing Lines at Christmas Time event.
Over 200 of the area youth and their families joined Local 142 along with San Antonio Building and Construction Trades Council volunteers, USA staff, the Priest Holmes Foundation and the NFLPA San Antonio/Austin Former Players Chapter.
The group spent the day at a pond in a local park where many of the children were taught how to fish for the first time.
Potter, who also serves as the San Antonio Building and Construction Trades Council President, continues to be an example for the United Association and for the Southwest Pipe Trades Association as a dedicated leader. He has donated his time to the building trades and to USA and nature conservation for many years.
“This annual event is always such a success as we partner with San Antonio BCTC members and former NFL Running Back, and NFLPA member, Priest Holmes” said Union Sportsmen’s Alliance in a social media post. “Thank you to everyone who came out to join us and participated! And thank you to our union volunteers who attended to help make this an awesome event”
The following prepared statement was released by Union Sportsmen’s Alliance on Dec 6:
Union Sportsmen/Former NFL Players Teach San Antonio Youth to Fish at 2nd Annual ‘Fishing Lines at Christmas Time’ Event
Nearly 200 youth and their families turned out at San Antonio’s Woodlawn Lake Park on Saturday for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) 2nd Annual Fishing Lines at Christmas Time event.
The free, community event was organized by the San Antonio Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) with support from the Priest Holmes Foundation and NFLPA San Antonio/Austin Former Players Chapter. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office was also on-site with a safety officer and sheriff’s boat.
“I grew up in the outdoors—that’s how I raised my kids. It’s such a crucial part of conservation, but there’s a clear disconnect between kids today and the outdoors,” said San Antonio BCTC Representative Shane Denn. “Anything we can do to engage kids in nature is worth every penny. Me and the other union volunteers had a blast, and I want to make this an annual event.”
Thirteen union volunteers representing the San Antonio BCTC, Electrical Workers Local 60, United Association Local 142, Insulators Local 87, Sheet Metal Workers Local 67, Roofers International, and the NFLPA San Antonio/Austin Former Players Chapter, donated their time to rig fishing poles and provide youth with instruction and assistance in baiting, casting, and landing fish.
“The event was outstanding,” said Jordan “Gig” Ritenour, assistant to the international president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers. “We got to interact with a lot of different people. Many of the parents were learning as we taught the kids, and they were just as excited to get their hands on a fishing pole—many for the first time.”
Priest Holmes, former NFL player and founder of Priest Holmes Foundation, was proud to be part of the youth outreach event in the city where he grew up.
“It’s my passion to be able to use my professional career as a platform to connect with underserved communities,” Holmes said. “Fishing brings the experience of being outdoors while learning patience and a new life skill. It’s a connection between myself and the families who participate while we create positive memories.”
Participating youth received a free fishing rod and reel to continue fishing for years to come. They were also gifted stuffed animals through the Priest Holmes Foundation’s partnership with PetSmart, and many won additional prizes. Adding to the holiday spirit, Slingshot San Antonio brought several vehicles decorated in Christmas lights, including the San Antonio Spurs car, for families to take photos. To cap off the morning of fishing, union volunteers prepared a picnic lunch for everyone, and PepsiCo provided chips and beverages.
“Getting families outdoors together, especially in urban areas, and giving them the knowledge and tools to pursue activities like fishing is so important to the future of our outdoor heritage,” said USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell. “We are proud to provide young people with these rewarding experiences and extremely grateful to all the union members and partners who make them possible.”
The event was part of a series of community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events, sponsored by Humana, organized under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program and supported by national partner Provost Umphrey Law Firm as well as USA founding partners UIG, ULLICO, Bank of Labor, AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation and Buck Knives.