ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Volunteering opportunities may seem like just another task to complete in order to fulfill a bullet on an upcoming performance report, but many overlook the positive impact volunteering has within the community and how much it means to the lives you touch.
I spent part of the weekend volunteering for the organization Habitat for Humanity. Yes, I was planning to use the volunteer opportunity as a bullet for my upcoming performance evaluation, but as the day progressed, I quickly realized it was more than a bullet - it was a learning experience on so many levels.
Senior Airman Travis Bellefeuille, 28th Operations Support Squadron targeteer, builds a roof during a Habitat for Humanity project in Summerset, S.D., Nov. 8, 2014. Bellefeuille and several other Ellsworth Airmen dedicated their time constructing a roof for a house that will be provided to a Habitat family in need. Habitat Black Hills Area volunteers have helped house over 300 people in the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio)
I arrived at the building site that morning to meet a few Airmen from Ellsworth who were also volunteering. It helped to see some familiar faces as I was not quite sure what to expect, only that we would most likely be building some kind of home for a family in need.
Cliff Shoemaker, Habitat construction supervisor, was full of energy and had quickly delegated specific tasks to all of the volunteers. I liked him because he seemed like a hard worker, someone you want to have around if you need something done quickly and without questions.
Cliff and his staff handed over a toolbox filled with hammers, nails, screwdrivers and wrenches, yelling out measurements from the rooftop and using construction jargon. It sounded like a foreign language. Fortunately, Senior Airman Nick Watson, 28th Aircraft Maintenance electronic warfare technician, is an avid Habitat volunteer and helped me understand what Cliff was asking us to do.
Watson began measuring out the dimensions of the wood pieces that would become the roof while I worked alongside another volunteer - Senior Airman Remy Ochoa, 28th Operation Support Squadron targeteer – helping carry those cut wood pieces up to Cliff who would then nail them into place.
The eight-foot wooden sheets were heavy and each time we handed one up, I held my breath praying I would not let it slip from my fingers.
After a couple hours into the project, Donna Reeves, Habitat partner family member, greeted all of us. Reeves explained how Habitat works and how thankful she is for the program.
She shared her emotional story with me, telling me that if it was not for Ha, she doesn't know where she would be living right now and thanked the volunteers for giving their time and talents to help construct homes for the less fortunate.
It was then that I began to see how what we were doing was more than just putting a roof on a house. We were taking part in building a home for a family where memories can be made and shared, a safe haven from bad weather and a place where those residing can sleep peacefully without worry.
Her story struck a chord within me and made me think of my life up to this point. I'd been blessed to have a home and a family. I looked around at all the volunteers working and felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment because of what our hard work meant to the community.
The day finally ended and we had put a roof over someone's head and that made me feel good about what we had done as a team.
Overall, I left with a few new construction terms and a better sense of why I should volunteer in the future. I discovered that this was more than a bullet completion – it was a growing experience, where I learned that giving time to others is one of the most valuable things one can give, especially to those who have not been fortunate to have a home.
By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Anania Tekurio
Provided through DVIDS
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