My name is Tim, and I’m an out of work pipe welder looking for help in funding so that I can travel to a new job that I was finally able to find through networking through fellow welders and job boards. It will be a 3 year contract which is a rather large contract considering for us pipeliners. So if you’re still with me, I’d like to explain a little about myself and my background so that you can feel more comfortable with me and feel that any donation you’re willing or considering to give will have a purpose.
Again, my name is Tim, I’m 36 years old, and I live just outside of Savannah, GA. I’ve lived here for over 26 years. I was your typical boy growing up, in a rather “poor” household. My dad was a pipefitter for many years and then the pipe shop foreman of the local shipyard in Savannah. So I recall early memories of going with my mom to pick him up after a shift or just to bring him lunch or see him if we were happening to go past and he was able to come out and meet us. So since a kid, I always wanted to grow up and be like my dad, he was truly my hero.
I learned at an early age to respect how hard he worked to support my mom and us kids, there were 3 of us. My mom was recently divorced and pregnant with me when she met him and rather than call him step-dad, I’ve always called him dad and introduced him as dad to friends, girlfriends, etc. While growing up, my mom’s uncle Virgil became too elderly to live alone, so she brought him in to live with us, which was great, we all loved “Unc”, he was a WWII vet, so I always enjoyed playing with my “Army” toys and gear around him and talking to him about Army stuff and about the war as I got older and he’d tell me what he was willing to, but around 11-12, he began to get really ill. My brother and myself had to help him in and out of bed, help him use the restroom, clothe him and the usual caretaker stuff. So a few years of my childhood were lost due to helping him which I don’t regret, I’d do it all over again, I loved that man and still have all his old war medals and memorabilia in his chest in my home. Eventually he got pneumonia and just a few days later my mom came home to tell us that he was gone. My biggest memory was them handing me his flag at his funeral and all I remember is just running to my mom’s car because I guess the reality of everything kicked in.
As with all wounds, time helped heal and I kept growing, eventually I was getting close to graduation from HS and I nearly enlisted into the Marine Corps but I remember seeing that same day that a position was opened up at the shipyard my dad was working at and him being the foreman, I was like “THIS IS MY CHANCE!”, I was ready to work with my dad, I’ve always dreamt of it. To be a hard worker like him and get my hands rough and dirty. So I applied after graduation through the staffing agency that I saw the ad for and I was hired after my dad and his coworkers gave HR recommendations to bring me in. But I didn’t start out doing what my dad did right away, I started through the maintenance department. I cleaned the building floors, organized the tool room, learned how to drive a forklift and some mechanical stuff. Eventually, a spot opened up in the pipe shop and the company hired me on full-time as an apprentice. I was so excited, I remember not even being able to sleep the night before I officially started the next day as a “PIPEFITTER!”
I worked there for nearly 3 years. I recall almost each day to this day and just how awesome it was to have a real job and do all the things I did as an 18yr old kid. I remember helping one of my dad’s workers while he was bending some pipe for a project they had coming up for a US Coast Guard Cutter ship and seeing a guy welding some other pipe for the first time. I was like “that looks so cool!” and I walked up to him and just started talking to the welder and being young, I’m sure I was annoying, but I was so captivated by the process and how he was taking metal and melting it and creating virtually anything he wanted. So I started to gravitate more towards welding during my time with the company but also learned a lot about pipefitting by helping my dad and the other guys, but any chance I got to help the welders, I jumped on it. Eventually the old welder vets set me up my own machine and I started out welding up hangers for the pipe they’d eventually bolt-up on the ships or yachts. I stunk at first.. and it was a MIG welder, which is pretty easy, but I had no idea what I was supposed to do, how to work the gas cylinders or set up a regulator or the type of wire I needed but they helped over time and I transitioned over to Stick welding when I was randomly told to go to the dry dock and help weld the rails on it that they’re beginning to crack. They just pointed me to the welding machine out by the dock and I remember being way out of my element and I was turning knobs, pulling leads, trying to figure out what the ground clamp was, but eventually I figured it out and I had my first official welding job– Welding rails for the ships to be pulled onto the ramp to take them out of the water and on dry land.
That same evening, I went to a welding supply store just before they closed and bought a welding cap, some tools, then I went by Walmart to get some new jeans and boots. I thought I was a total bad*** (haha). Low and behold, that very next day, a new company purchased the existing ship company and lay-offs began trickling down. I was eventually laid-off after I missed one day due to my mother falling ill considering by this time she had a number of health issues herself. I returned to work after that day and they let me go, I guess new management were looking for reasons to remove all the old employees to bring in the new wave. I don’t know.. but I was seriously sad to lose that job. I finally worked with my dad, learned how hard and rewarding his job was all these years, I was learning how to weld and doing something I truly loved and lost it because my family will always come first to me.
A few months went by where I was doing odds and ends for money, I was able to buy my first car, nothing spectacular. Then I landed a job working at Great Dane Trailers in Savannah welding the rear frames and headers of dry vans/refrigerated trailers (this was around 2004, I believe).. and just a few years later that plant closed and eventually reopened a couple counties over a year or two after. So after that, I landed a job at a company that did Industrial Maintenance, which involved pipe welding, structural welding, repair and maintenance of industrial machinery like pumps, generators, boilers, etc throughout most of the plants in the Savannah area that dealt with the oil & gas industry, chemical plants, paper plants and so on. So using some of the knowledge of pipefitting and welding I’ve learned the last several years, I became pretty proficient at it and learned a whole lot more about pipefitting and welding processes and eventually learned how to TIG weld.
I was approached by a pipeliner one day while eating at a restaurant when he noticed my welding cap and “Wrangler” shirt, and he asked if I was a pipe welder and I told him “yes sir, how’d ya know?!” and he said he just knew and he ended up talking me into joining him as pipeliner and learning that trade and I took up the offer because the money and traveling was exciting to me. But for the first couple of years, it was pretty easy, most of the work was around Georgia, so I didn’t have to go far. During this time, my mom began to get more ill, she was now required to be on oxygen 24/7, she couldn’t stand long, needed help walking because she’d get dizzy spells, she was now diagnosed as diabetic, just a plethora of issues. So any chance I was near home, I’d stay with my parents so I could help her while dad had to work because they needed the insurance for her medications which were insane at the time due to the amount she took.
As the months went by, so did my mom’s health. In 2019, she made one last trip to the hospital, which we were all optimistic because typically when she went to the hospital, in just a few days she’d recover and be able to return, but this time she just couldn’t. I was able to see her, hold her and be there when she left the world. That’s when times began getting harder for me. I left the pipelining trade and went back to the company I worked for doing the industrial maintenance so that I’d be close to home and there for the remainder of my family if they needed, esp my dad. Times were going okay, despite some depression and typical lows of losing a loved one, I just kept going and working. I still had my dog, Milly, and then 2021 came around and my sister and her family got sick. Deathly sick with COVID, but my sister got worse and eventually had to go into the ER due to it. My brother in law and nephews were beginning to recover but too weak to do anything, so I offered to watch the young kids while them two get better and my BIL could focus on my sister and her needs since he was the only one allowed to visit her.
I remember texting my sister each day while she was in there and she was optimistic about coming home soon, as was I. I’d make her laugh or just talk about whatever when she was able to speak before meds knocked her out or she was too winded to talk. I just stayed busy with her kids, making sure they’re fed, and all that.. it was pretty rough. So, moms and dads out there, (I have no kids), but I now understand what you guys go through! You guys are the real MVPs. But anyway, eventually my BIL got better and the kids went back to their house. I returned to work after 2 weeks and on the 4th week while at work, my BIL called and said I needed to get to the hospital that they’re going to let us come visit her finally. So I dropped my welding hood, tools, everything and just booked it out of the plant and made my way to the hospital which was a good 20-30 trip from the job. I remember pulling up, walking up to see my brother outside and me going in to check-in to let them know I was there to see her and my brother came down as I was talking to the receptionist and told us to come outside.. so we all followed him and he told us she passed away just a minute before.
So, my mom just a year before and now my sister whom was only 39 passed.. that sent me into a very depressive spiral. I won’t go too into detail about that, just what most people experience I suppose. But it affected my work, I just didn’t have the motivation to be there and my family were all devastated so I took a leave of absence to focus on family and that was around January of this year. I was fortunate to have made enough money through 80+ hr work weeks that I could afford to be home for a while and help family when they needed it for funeral expenses and all and my family seems to be doing a lot better now. My brother in law and kiddos are doing great, my dad is doing better and hangs out at his Masonic Lodge a lot and his old buddies keep him going and moving.
So, there’s a bit about me and where I come from, so I hope that helps explain the type of person I am which brings me to why I need help now;
The last couple of months I’ve tried to find work in my trade around town and it was just saturated with job positions already filled, job board positions being closed, even the company I worked for all this time was short on work so I couldn’t return there at this time. So I was able to network with some old pipe buddies and contacts and I found a gig in Montana that will be a 36 month contract or shorter depending on favorable weather conditions, pace, etc, it may be a little shorter but a very promising and financially stable job to get myself back on my feet to recover the time and money that I lost dealing with life’s issues and focusing on myself. My only issue is that in order to get this position, I need to travel there to take the weld test (tests are required on all jobs in pipelining) and then start the hiring process such as paperwork.
I need help with the cost of fuel, food, and hotel stays until I receive my first couple of checks to keep my bills paid and eventually move all of my belongings to Montana. The company offers relocation assistance but they only pay it out in increments over time so it really isn’t a help at all for my situation at the moment but it will help in time.
If you can find it in your heart to help me or even consider helping, I’d greatly appreciate it, and you can contact me at: email@example.com to let me know you’ve helped and I’d be more than happy to express my gratitude and thanks as well as photos of my journey or photos of the stories I told earlier.
Thank you so much for listening and for the consideration of helping me move on in life and working again,
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