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Air Force recruits assist Habitat for National Day of Service

September 16, 2013

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Nhan Nguyen, of Rochester Hills, paints the kitchen of a Habitat for Humanity house on Kershaw Street in Roseville, which will go to an active reservist with the Air National Guard and his family.

ROSEVILLE — A group of 30 U.S. Air Force recruits volunteered their time with Macomb Habitat for Humanity Sept. 11 to set up houses — one on Kershaw and another on Oakdale — as part of the National Day of Service.

Michael Terenzi Jr., marketing manager with Macomb Habitat for Humanity, said the recruits were volunteering as part of the Brush with Kindness program that the organization started three years ago, which primarily serves veterans or active-duty servicemen and women.

“The program is designed to help seniors, disabled or the veterans, and low-income families,” Terenzi said. “It’s only exterior projects outside the home, whether it’s siding, fixing a porch or helping with the landscaping.”

One of the two houses being worked on by the recruits is going to be the future home of an Air National Guard reservist and his family, according to Sue Tucholski, volunteer house leader.

Macomb Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Helen Hicks said having the recruits help out on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was quite meaningful, as well.

“I think to have these people out here volunteering on the 9/11 anniversary is very moving,” Hicks said.

Air Force recruiter Sgt. Mike Regina said he and his fellow local recruiters ask their recruits if any of them would be available to help out on these Habitat for Humanity projects, adding that giving back to the community is one of the things that “the Air Force is all about.” The response, Regina said, is usually quite strong.

“We tell the recruits that there’s a project going on and ask if anyone is free, and usually we get enough,” Regina said. “One time, we had around 45 or 50 volunteers, but it depends on the workload. You can only fit so many people inside these buildings.”

While the volunteers are in varying parts of the recruitment process, Regina said some of them have already completed basic training and technical school, and they are volunteering before heading out to their bases. One of them, Airman 1st Class Samer Jamel, said helping with projects around the house is just something he enjoys doing.

“I just like doing these little projects and helping out,” Jamel said. “I do these projects at home, too, so I’m not just sitting around.”

Another recruit, Nhan Nguyen, said it sounded like a “cool opportunity” to help out a local family before learning that he was painting the walls of an Air National Guardsman’s future home.

“I did (volunteer) a lot where I used to live, but then stopped after we moved, because I didn’t have the time,” Nguyen said. “But now that I’ve graduated, I have the time, (and) I thought I’d help out wherever I could.”

Another regular Habitat for Humanity volunteer, Karan Bates-Gasior, said that she enjoyed working with the recruits because of how active they are.

“They’ll come up to me and say, ‘Ma’am, do you have another job for me?’” she said. “They’re fantastic to work with.”

About the author

Staff Writer Kevin Bunch covers the communities of Eastpointe and Roseville, as well as Roseville Community Schools and East Detroit Public Schools. He has worked at C&G Newspapers since 2013, and is a graduate of Wayne State University and Henry Ford Community College. Kevin is also a 2015 Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting alumni.

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