Habitat For Humanity, Abe Help Seattle-area Locals

Story Number: NNS090313-16Release Date: 3/13/2009 5:22:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kirk T. Putnam, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) volunteered March 7 to take part in a Habitat for Humanity program, offered through the Fleet and Family Support Liberty Program.

Sailors were transported to the South King County area where they took part in an experimental Habitat for Humanity program still in the trial phases. This experimental program takes volunteers into older neighborhoods in disrepair and actually rebuilds existing houses rather than build from the ground up like other Habitat programs, according to Mike Taggart, site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity.

"A lot of these neighborhoods were pretty bad with crime so first the police came in and cleaned them up. Then we come in," said Taggart. "One thing I noticed was the attitude changed. Before, people were not very neighborly, but now people talk to neighbors they might not have talked to before. I think it's changed the attitude of the people living here. It's become like a real neighborhood.

Sailors were rewarded with praise from the Habitat crew and fellow civilian volunteers for their effort.

"We were looking forward to the Sailors because we had a lot of back-breaking work today. I knew it would probably be a bunch of young, tough Sailors," said Taggart.

Most of the day consisted of dedicated crews repairing the roof by tearing off worn shingles and patching holes and leveling the backyard with fresh dirt. Another crew spent the day jackhammering concrete near the house and taking the concrete fragments to a nearby dumping site.

"We couldn't have done it without them. I really can't see myself with a jackhammer. They can come back anytime. We can use the help," said Casey Rountree, a member of AmeriCorps and one of the quality control supervisors for the day's project.

"I volunteered purely to see the faces and how grateful they are for the end product. I do it for the smiles on their faces," said Chief Master-at-Arms (SW/AW) Michael L. Mathis, Lincoln's Security division leading chief petty officer, who is orignially from Dededo, Guam,

"They will walk away having learned something new about remodeling or building a home. You know that you'll use that information again sometime in your life. Also a kind of camaraderie forms. You may meet new people and maybe even build a long lasting friendship," said Taggart.

Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class (AW) Alfonso Navos, a native of Daly City, Calif., and a member of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation office aboard Lincoln said he learned an important lesson and didn't have to travel far to volunteer.

"We are right next to my house and, really, I wanted to help out and learn something. Guess what, I learned how to build a roof without falling off of it," said Navos.

"We really want to get the word out to people. We are here for them and if there are any volunteer opportunities or activities they want us to provide, they can contact us," said Marijo Umlor, Fleet and Family Support Liberty and Deployed Forces program manager for Naval Station Everett. "Sailors go out and help the community. In exchange they get recognition for volunteer hours. It's a win-win situation for everybody."

For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.

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