I was afforded yet another opportunity to document exactly the kind of things that the Navy Reserve does to help out the local community. A few months ago I was encouraged by the Reserve Center Commanding Officer to take the lead on setting up some kind of community service event for the unit that I am in. So I contacted the local Habitat for Humanity in Cleveland, TN to volunteer my group.
I contacted Habitat via email and was greeted by the Volunteer Coordinator Annie Kinworthy. I briefed Annie on who I was and who we were as a unit. I provided her with a list of dates that we would be available and she happily “penciled” us in.
A couple of years ago, Habitat acquired some land off of 20th St S.E. in Cleveland and began developing the first Habitat for Humanity neighborhood where every home in the neighborhood would be a Habitat home. They named this new development “Century Village”. It was cleverly named this because Habitat would build their 100th home in this neighborhood. Annie allowed us to be a part of this wonderful endeavor.
The first time we volunteered this year we helped put a roof on one of the homes. Approximately ten to twelve sailors came to lend a hand. This weekend however we did much different things. One group of sailors assisted in installing vinyl siding on a storage building behind one of the houses. Another group assisted in installing shutters on three of the houses. One group put down landscaping material on two of the houses. A couple of the guys put together some lawn mowers and put in a couple of mail boxes. We were also able to see the nearly finished home that we put the roof on.
The best part about helping with these homes is meeting the owners. Seeing the smile on their faces as they arrive to help us build their house is a great feeling. Some people think that these homes are just given away to poor people but that is very far from the truth. Miss Kinworthy explain to us that the families must put in 500 sweat equity hours before they are given the keys to their home. Those hours include helping to build another family’s house. The new owners must also acquire an interest free loan and then Habitat actually sells the house to the new owner at cost. These homes are certainly not given away. The families work their tails off.
Next month, on Saturday, September 11th, the Navy Reserves will once again be in Cleveland helping build another home.
Not only do we help the oppressed people of foreign countries from murderous dictators; we also bring smiles to local families, both of which make me very proud to be a United States Sailor.