Marines and Sailors improve one Florida community

29 Apr 2005 | Cpl. Edward L. Mennenga

More than 50 Marines and sailors attending Fleet Week at Fort Lauderdale, Fl., took a break from their tasks to give back to one Florida community, volunteering time to Habitat for Humanity April 26 through 28.

The Marines and sailors, stationed aboard the USS Bataan, USS Nashville, USS Thomas S. Gates, USS Stout, and USS Laboon, assisted Habitat for Humanity of Broward County by landscaping, shingling, wall furring and framing 17 homes in three days.

“I absolutely love when the military comes out,” said Mary Lou Bowman-Cubbin, director of construction, Habitat for Humanity of Broward County. “The military accomplishes the task in about half the time that our regular civilian volunteers do. And they really seem to enjoy coming out and helping the community so they’re a great pleasure to work with.”

The Marines and Sailors worked at two building sites, the Collegiate Challenge Program site and the Women Building a Legacy site.

In all, the Marines landscaped nine homes, roofed three, and worked on other jobs throughout the remaining homes.

“This is great for the Marines and the sailors coming out doing it, it gives them a purpose, besides what they do on the ship, to get out and feel like they’re contributing,” said Gunnery Sgt. Clinton Williams, combat cargo assistant for the flight deck aboard the USS Bataan. “We’re getting out here and everyone is seeing our work. They know we’re military by our haircuts and uniforms. So they know the military is giving back their part.”

Before the Marines, sailors, and Habitat for Humanity moved into town, the neighborhood suffered from high crime and was considered a low-income community. Now, with the help of volunteers building the homes, the face of the community is changing. The neighborhood is starting to clean up with houses being painted, sod is being laid, and other residents are renovating their homes, said Bowman-Cubbin.

Building contractors, building inspectors, residents and Rear Admiral Barry McCullough, commander, Carrier Strike Group 6, all came out to express their appreciation to the volunteers said Bowman-Cubbin

“It’s giving back time, volunteering time, to help out people that are certainly less fortunate then we are ,”said Navy Chaplain Scott Cauble, chaplain for Destroyer Squadron 6 out of Pascagoula, Miss., and currently attached to USS Thomas S. Gates. “It gives sailors an opportunity to invest their lives in something that’s perhaps even bigger then the Navy.”