By Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public AffairsJune 15, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Tx. -- Volunteers from the 717th Military Intelligence Battalion at Lackland Air Force Base have begun putting aside their uniforms one day a month to engage in a different kind of warfare. It's part of a long, ongoing campaign to provide new houses for people who might not otherwise afford them.
Approximately 50 members of the battalion, including a few civilians and family members, met in the Palo Alto neighborhood of southwest San Antonio June 4 to lend a hand to Habitat for Humanity, the organization that builds "simple, decent and affordable" houses using donated materials and volunteer labor and sells them to qualifying families at no profit.
Members of the battalion's Better Opportunities for Singles Soldiers (BOSS) organization spearheaded the brigade's involvement with Habitat for Humanity.
Cpl. Vernell Parker said they decided to work with Habitat for Humanity after a number of people brought up "the idea to do something" for the community. He explained that Sgt. Shannon Truitt arranged for the day that their group of volunteers would help out. Once at the site, the volunteers received a briefing from one of the Habitat for Humanity coordinators.
"If you know how to do something that needs to be done, you show others how to do it," said Parker. And although a number of Soldiers had no previous experience working on houses, they picked up their tasks quickly enough.
"They're motivated and enthusiastic, and that's what counts," said Pete Garza, Habitat for Humanity's leader for this project.
Sgt. Monique Robinson said she used to do a lot of community service before joining the military 22 months ago and was ready to do something again. She noted that this was the second time that this group had helped at a Habitat for Humanity project. The first time, the group helped with some landscaping and framing.
On this particular day, the volunteers mostly worked on completing the roofing, the siding and the porch on a house already far along in construction. Next time they will take on another project and look forward to having more volunteers from the brigade joining them.
"It makes me feel good to do something for someone who can't do it for themselves," said Pfc. Joshua Sweet.