ABERDEEN, N.C. – On a clear and sunny fall morning on Oct. 16, 19 Fort Bragg Soldiers from the 50th Signal Battalion gathered in Aberdeen, N.C., to provide a helping hand to the Habitat for Humanity of the North Carolina Sandhills in an effort to give a deserving Family a part of the American dream.
Home ownership is a goal many Americans would consider an essential part of life. These Soldiers from Fort Bragg feel the same, and have volunteered their personal time and efforts to construct the outer walls for a new home.
“The idea first came to me through my son, he was volunteering his time with Habitat for Humanity but due to the fact that he was only 16 years of age, he needed a parent to go with him, “said Lt. Col. Christopher M. O’Connor, commander of the 50th Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps. “So I went with him and I thought to myself, what a great opportunity for the battalion to participate in a community service project where you can see such tangible results.”
Even though this was hard work, the positive attitudes of the Soldiers made the tough work environment more than enjoyable.
“This has been fun. I have even come out here on the weekends to help out,” said Sgt. Daniel Lewis, volunteer effort noncommissioned officer in charge.
“We have worked on three homes out here so far. There has been an absolute wonderful turnout from the Soldiers, (and) although we do not see the results, we are able to see the difference we are making when we see smiles on the faces of the homeowners.”
The success of a Habitat for Humanity project lies in the hands of its volunteers and although most of the volunteers have little or no experience in carpentry, their tireless commitment to do a great job makes up for it.
“The Soldiers are doing wonderful. They should have two walls up before lunch and all the outside walls up before the end of the day at the rate that their going,” said Dan Aaron, retired Army colonel and volunteer effort crew leader.”The Soldiers are learning firsthand how to build a house. You don’t need to have experience because we will teach you what you need to know to build a home, all you need is a desire and willingness to work and the rest is easy.”
The volunteer coordinator for this local chapter of Habitat for Humanity would like to extend a special invitation to Soldiers and Families of the Sandhills community to come and volunteer for a worthy cause.
“We are so excited to have the 50th Signal Battalion here with us today. This is the fourth time that they volunteered with us to build this 22 home subdivision consisting of mainly four or five bedroom homes,” said Judie Wiggins, volunteer coordinator for the Habitat for Humanity of the North Carolina Sandhills. “Many of us have a home to go to. But for these Families, many of them have rented substandard apartments for $700 to 800 for many years, so this provides them an opportunity to own their own home with a low monthly mortgage with zero interest for 25 years,” said Wiggins.
This volunteer effort has provided many benefits to the Soldiers of the 50th Signal Bn.
“First there is an overall sense of community. We are supporting and giving back to the Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, and Sandhills area. This is where we live and spend a lot of our off time,” said O’Connor. “Second, there are some valuable skills that one can learn to maintain their own home from working with Habitat for Humanity. Thirdly, there is a sense of pride that each Soldier has when they volunteer their time to help somebody. It is really something special to help build something like a home,” siad O’ Connor.