Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010- A Different Kind of Fatigue...

By Whitney Craig, Volunteer Coordinator and Site Supervisor

Whitney (far left) and John meeting with soldiers
volunteering for the day
Last Thursday, November 11, 2010, was no ordinary Thursday (not that any day is ever ordinary at St. Bernard Project) – it was Veteran’s Day. The way we chose to honor and remember such a holiday was to create the amazing opportunity to work alongside people serving our country in a variety of ways – from the United States Secretary of Energy to men and women who served and continue to serve in our United States Armed Forces.

So when the opportunity came along to work on Ms. Mona Lisa Payne's home with veterans and Secretary Chu, I was so pumped! Several of my family members have served in various branches of the military, so respect and honor for the men and women who live to serve our country was instilled in me early in life. These folks do so much for us, our country and our safety. Having the chance to shake hands with a woman who has nursed so many wounded soldiers back to health and teach a man who built camps in Afghanistan how to tape and mud a corner seam - How could one not be moved by such an honor?

Whitney teaching the Secretary
how to mud
If you would have walked by the site that day, you could not have missed us. Some of the volunteers were dressed head to toe in their Army fatigues. Other wore black and gold SBP shirts. All were doing their part to get Ms. Mona Lisa back home.

Each piece of insulation stapled, each sheet of drywall hung, every glob of mud, every beautifully taped seam and each coat of paint helps move a family one step closer to moving home. At lunch time, we welcomed the 320th family home Mr. Kwame and Mrs. Dominique Adansi-Bona. The welcome home party was filled with volunteers, SBP staff, veterans, Sec. Chu and staff from the U.S. Department of Energy.

At one point, they asked all the vets to come to the front of the crowd. There was even a vet from the neighborhood who simply wanted to welcome his neighbor’s home – Sgt. Johnson called him forward too. Then, in true SBP style, the ribbon was cut.

Before volunteers ate their cake and toured the home, Ms. Dominique stepped up to the microphone and led the crowd in singing “America the Beautiful.” The feeling amidst the crowd was one of honor, joy and gratitude. We honored our soldiers, veterans, and country with that song together. We shared in the Adansi-Bona’s joy of coming home after 5 long and challenging years. The whole group shared the gratitude they had for all the volunteers to help get them home, and the gratefulness to all the people who have come to lend their helping hands, and end up connecting to other human hearts.

1 comment:

Bobby said...

What a great story, keep up the good work.