Barstow, Calif. -- A Sept. 28 ribbon cutting ceremony at Barstow's Military Connection and Resource Center, celebrated renovations made by volunteers from area Home Depot stores that greatly improved the buildings condition and enhanced the services provided there.

Colonel Jonathan P. Braga, Fort Irwin Garrison Commander, and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Dale J. Perez, participated in the ceremony along with Military Connection and Resource Center staff and members of Team Depot, a group of Home Depot employees who volunteered their time and expertise to renovate the building.

Cheers erupted as the cut ribbon unfurled to the ground. Col. Braga and Command Sgt. Maj. Perez then escorted Family members who have lost loved ones who served, into the building and led them to a room set aside to honor the fallen. There, Family members placed pictures of their fallen Servicemembers on a shelf where they will be honored.
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The term Military Service, often evokes images of aircraft carriers, army tanks or people marching in rank and file. But for people who have been there and done it, it is much more. They know that lives are affected. They know that Family members whose loved ones are serving far from home and Servicemembers who recently separated from service as well as Families of fallen Servicemembers -- all have one thing in common. They all need to know they are not alone.

That's where the Military Connection and Resource Center comes in. It's a small converted home in Barstow, Calif. that has been converted to a series of small offices and is the only one of its kind to provide such services in the state of California. The center gives support to Servicemembers, Veterans and their Families -- and makes it their mission to let them know they are never alone.
Before the renovation, the outside of the building appeared small and unassuming. It is also an old building that over the years had aged and aged until it's once warm-feel faded with time to a more industrialized office look. Much of its paint had peeled like an orange left too long in the sun. The furniture too, had done decades worth of duty. But it has been a place where people who have been part of the Military life could go for more than twenty-years; for financial assistance, help with finding employment or grief counseling after a loved one has passed.

Over the past two decades, little attention and little funding have existed to give the building its much needed facelift. So, Lori Picard, a survivors outreach services coordinator with the Military Connection and Resource Center began phoning-up area businesses, hoping to find donations and supplies which companies might be willing to give that could be used for the much needed repairs. One such call was to a Barstow Home Depot store, in Southern Calif.Before the renovation, the outside of the building appeared small and unassuming. It is also an old building that over the years had aged and aged until it's once warm-feel faded with time to a more industrialized office look. Much of its paint had peeled like an orange left too long in the sun. The furniture too, had done decades worth of duty. But it has been a place where people who have been part of the Military life could go for more than twenty-years; for financial assistance, help with finding employment or grief counseling after a loved one has passed.

Over the past two decades, little attention and little funding have existed to give the building its much needed facelift. So, Lori Picard, a survivors outreach services coordinator with the Military Connection and Resource Center began phoning-up area businesses, hoping to find donations and supplies which companies might be willing to give that could be used for the much needed repairs. One such call was to a Barstow Home Depot store, in Southern Calif..

Before the renovation, the outside of the building appeared small and unassuming. It is also an old building that over the years had aged and aged until it's once warm-feel faded with time to a more industrialized office look. Much of its paint had peeled like an orange left too long in the sun. The furniture too, had done decades worth of duty. But it has been a place where people who have been part of the Military life could go for more than twenty-years; for financial assistance, help with finding employment or grief counseling after a loved one has passed.

Over the past two decades, little attention and little funding have existed to give the building its much needed facelift. So, Lori Picard, a survivors outreach services coordinator with the Military Connection and Resource Center began phoning-up area businesses, hoping to find donations and supplies which companies might be willing to give that could be used for the much needed repairs. One such call was to a Barstow Home Depot store, in Southern Calif..

"As an Army veteran, I know personally how difficult it can be for Veterans and Families to return successfully to civilian life after serving," said Fred Wacker, Director and Chief Operating Officer of The Home Depot Foundation. "We are not only honored to repair and refurbish Ft. Irwin's Barstow Survivors Outreach Center where Veterans and Veterans' Families receive services, but also to have an opportunity to say 'thank you' to these Families for their sacrifice."

The morning of Sept. 18, the sounds of hammers, spinning drills and sweeping brooms filled the air of the aged Center. Team Depot volunteers filed in and out of the building; carrying supplies and tools. As the morning grew toward noon, the temperature rose but spirits remained high. The sounds of jokes and laughter accentuated the humming of power tools and the banging of hammers which almost masked the reality that individuals were hard at work. But it was spirited work, aimed at placing community above personal wants or needs.
Team Depot members, some veterans themselves -- jumped at the chance to provide the Resource Center with the supplies and labor needed to make the home what they felt it deserved to be.

"In 2011, Home Depot made a commitment to put $80M toward Veteran's homes and services to help make their living better," said Sherri Morris, Project Foreman for Team Depot Store '6972' in Barstow, Calif. "…and this is just another facet of that."

Morris explained that the project that drives Home Depot is known as "Celebration of Service," she said, an annual program which enables store employees to make a difference in the lives of Veterans and their Families. She says that since the program began it has given $52M in programs to projects like the Military Connection and Resource Center in Barstow.

"I am ecstatic that Team Depot cares this much about the military and their Families," said Lori Picard. "They are beautifying our building. This building was donated to us in 1992 and really it has had no attention since then."

Page last updated Mon September 30th, 2013 at 00:00