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50th CES Airmen assist in the community

Members of the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron build a fence for an women in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sept. 5, 2020. The Airmen participate in one community involvement event per quarter and assisted Habitat for Humanity with the project. (Courtesy photo)

Members of the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron build a fence for an women in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sept. 5, 2020. The Airmen participate in one community involvement event per quarter and assisted Habitat for Humanity with the project. (Courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Six Airmen from the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron provided their knowledge and resources Sept. 5 in downtown Colorado Springs to assist elderly women at their home.

The Airmen, who participate in one community involvement event per quarter, volunteered their weekend to clean the women’s yard and build a fence to help them feel safer at their home.

The residence did not previously have a fence and Greg Kovach, Habitat for Humanity director of operations, said homeless people would often come to the property and sleep in their yard.

After learning of this, Habitat for Humanity asked for assistance from the 50th CES in order to help build a fence.

“Our first task involved securing the backyard with a five-foot privacy fence and cleaning trees and brush from the yard,” Kovach said. “In addition, the structure was compromised by rotting siding, which we replaced, caulked and painted.”

Per a service agreement with Habitat for Humanity, Sarah Buchen, Habitat for Humanity volunteer coordinator, said they could not provide names of the women whom 50th CES Airmen assisted, but said the fence helped the two women feel safer.   

Staff Sgt. Kyle Burke-Puertas, 50th CES structural journeyman, said Habitat for Humanity reached out to the Airmen because they recognized the 50th CES’s capabilities.

“We put a group together and [Habitat for Humanity] shot us some projects," Burke-Puertas said. “Helping out with this situation was one of those projects and we made sure to assist as best as we could.”

Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope, according to its mission statement, selected CES due to the pair’s relationship and for their ability to work cohesively.  

Burke-Puertas said the CES provides skills Habitat for Humanity desires, which eliminated the process of hiring a contractor for this quick project.

“[Habitat for Humanity] loves working with us and we love working with them because we can provide the skills they need,” Burke-Puertas said. “Plus, as a team, we have the communication and discipline to swiftly complete a job.”

Though the unit often completes similar volunteer projects throughout the community, Burke-Puertas said the experience serves as a reminder to value his abilities and how it can help.

“It’s humbling to go out and be able to do something like that,” Burke-Puertas said. “You don’t realize how much of an impact you can have until after the fact. It helps you appreciate the little things that you sometimes overlook.” 

Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Voorhees, 50th CES superintendent, was grateful for the opportunity and said helping people is something Airmen should feel good about.

“We have a lot of rock stars in the unit that love to contribute to the community,” Voorhees said. “It wasn’t surprising that folks would step up to help out an organization where a majority of the work requirements are directly related to construction, which is our strong suit.”

The CES plans to do future work with Habitat for Humanity and help move people in the community where they live.

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