SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- The sounds of hammers, shovels and saws cut through a calm Saturday morning in Santa Cruz, as 15 service members from the Defense Language Institute and Presidio of Monterey partnered with Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay, Sept. 14 to build a home for a veteran.
A global nonprofit organization, Habitat for Humanity constructs affordable housing across the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries. The Presidio troops led by Seaman Elizabeth Carpenter assisted the Monterey Bay affiliate, which operates in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
Carpenter, an Arabic language student at DLI, owned a painting service prior to joining the Navy, and continues to use her skills as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Knowing her fellow service members share her desire to serve, she managed to recruit many other students to volunteer for the organization.
"The military members are definitely really different to be around, and really positive to feed off of," the Grand Rapids native said.
The students drove nails, measured boards, transported gravel and shoveled dirt. Carpenter said Habitat for Humanity provides opportunities for volunteers to contribute and allows them to try different aspects of construction -- and with no experience necessary.
"The organization is very come as you are, do what you can," Carpenter said.
Mike McIlwain, the Project Manager for Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay was delighted with the service member's teamwork, noting their persistence and work ethic.
"These guys all work really hard… This is the second time they've been here in four months and I hope they keep it up," he said.
The first time Carpenter volunteered with the organization, she and a friend used their personal vehicles to transport 10 volunteers from the Navy's Information Warfare Training Command to the construction site, but as more people heard about the opportunity, the second outing would need outside help.
Carpenter contacted the chaplain's office to request support for this humanitarian effort. Maj. Everett Zachary, Family Life Chaplain for the Presidio of Monterey pledged his support, not only organizing transportation, but arranging for lunches and beverages for the students.
On why people keep volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, McIlwain said, "It's tangible. It's easy to see the work that you've done."
The sailors look forward to future volunteer opportunities with Habitat for Humanity to continue serving the local community.
Future residents of Habitat for Humanity housing, like the veteran family who will live in this house, are chosen for the program according to their need, their ability to repay a zero-interest mortgage, and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat. Each homeowner contributes 500 hours towards the construction of Habitat homes.