62nd Making a Difference for Bennett Family

by Spc. Fabian Ortega
13th SC(E) Public Affairs

For the past five months Soldiers from the 62nd Engineer Battalion rear detachment, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) have become familiar faces on the 1500 block of Anna Lee Street.

Soldiers from the 62nd Eng. Bn., along with numerous volunteers from the Killeen area and Fort Hood community, have teamed up to build home for the Bennett family through Habitat for Humanity Women Build – a program that encourages women and girls to have fun and make a difference by building homes and communities.

Habitat for Humanity, a Christian-based housing organization, awarded Barbara Bennett, a resident of Killeen and an employee on Fort Hood, a place to call home with the support of various local organizations in Killeen such as Lowe’s, the Fort Hood Area United Way and the City of Killeen’s Home program.

The 62nd Eng. Bn. has been on board with the project since mid-July, a month after the project initially got underway.

“I wish we could do this for everybody,” said Pfc. Elton Peterson, a carpenter with the 62nd Eng. Bn. “I’m from Louisiana and I saw my neighborhood after the hurricane but I was in Iraq so I could not volunteer to help (in the relief effort), but this is my way of giving back; I’m trying to do my part,” said Peterson.

Habitat for humanity thrives on the labor of volunteers and donations of money and materials from local businesses, which has led to more than 200,000 homes built world wide. The cost of the houses built in the US is an average of nearly $60,000.

The 62nd Eng. Bn. has volunteered up to 30 to 40 Soldiers at a time, assisting and sometimes being solely responsible for completing complicated and important tasks associated with homebuilding.

“We built the walls on the outside, did all the roofing, all the shingles and dry wall,” said Lt. Tessa R. Hazlett. “When (the 62nd Eng. Bn.) got out here the house was in the final stage of framing, so we helped finish the framing,” said Hazlett.

Labor is the most expensive part of a building a home, that’s why for Barbara Bennett the 62nd Eng. Bn. and others who have volunteered are nothing short of heaven sent, said Bennett.

The home building project had fallen behind schedule only a month after it had begun, and when the 62nd volunteered for the project, things quickly got back on track, said Bennett.

“Project began in June and the 62nd Engineers have been out here since July, every Tuesday and Thursday,” said Bennett. “These guys are responsible for the majority of the roof being done, the sheetrock being hung, walls being put up the whole nine yards,” she said. “Thank god for them coming out here helping me on my home.”

Bennett said that some Soldiers volunteered their Saturday’s and that those Soldiers have become really close friends. One of those Soldiers, Spc. Brian Latore, a general construction operator with the 62nd Eng. Bn., has volunteered his services every Saturday.

“I live in the barracks …. this project seems like the only place like home for me,” said Latore, speaking of his previous experience with home improvement projects. “My father and I would go around and work on different parts of the house. I’ve had a little bit of practice,” he said.

Bennett expressed her thanks for Soldiers such as Latore.

“I have established good relationships with a lot of the volunteers,” said Bennett. “Bryan is out here every Saturday when he is not on duty and when these guys come out here, they work and get the job done,” she said. “They’ve got the job done.”

Habitat for Humanity and the 62nd Eng. Bn. plan on having the home completed and ready for occupation Nov. 11.

 

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