Habitat for Humanity and their volunteers gave some low-income veterans winter cheer by building future housing and giving presents to their families for the holidays.
About 100 volunteers came together this Saturday to help build homes and give gifts to the veterans living in the CalVet sponsored homes off of Centre Pointe Parkway. in Santa Clarita, a veterans only community.
The homes are part of Habitat for Humanity’s Santa Clarita Enriched Neighborhood, which is a 78 house community for low-income veterans and their families.
The volunteers gathered with the future homeowners of the houses still being built and grabbed shovels and buckets, digging out the water and mud of the housing plots, preparing them for plumbing to be installed on Monday.
“It’s like a blessing,” said Mark Johnson a 20 year veteran of the California National Guard. “For what they’re doing, all the volunteers coming out and giving their time on a Saturday when they can be out partying, it means a lot.”
Johnson is also one of the veterans who was chosen to become the owner of one of the remaining 24 homes being built. With his clothes dirty from the mud, he worked hard on building the home that would one day be his. A gift for the time he gave to his country.
“We never (served) for recognition, we just did it for the pride of our country,” Johnson said.
The homes currently under construction are the last phase of the community and are planned to be finished in about a year. Once completed they will hold a “key ceremony” celebrating the new homeowners and marking the end of the journey to get there.
Together with their sister agency Homes for Families, Habitat is not just looking to build homes but also help veterans reintegration into the larger community. Both charities created many programs designed to help them with problems like PTSD, traumatic injuries and financial literacy.
“You can bring someone to a home, but in order for them to be successful you have to give them the services,” said Donielle DeLeon, Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV director of corporate and community engagement. “We have decided to devote all of our resources to veterans”
One such resource is the MyTime center up the street from the community. The center is where the veterans can take all of the trauma classes to help them overcome those issues.
Just above the building site, Habitat was also putting on a holiday party for the entire community.
Bringing their families, the veterans were given gifts and a place to come together to celebrate all the holidays of the season.
Volunteers brought toys, games and crafts for the kids to enjoy, as well as a ‘Frozen’ bounce house that kept them active.
“Every other neighborhood you move into you don’t know your neighbors,” said Drew Myers one of the homeowners and a Marine Corp veteran. “This is different in that we do classes together, we get to know one another and we do parties like this one.”
Habitat also throws many different parties throughout the year such as a Thanksgiving feast in the streets and a Halloween event, even bringing snow in July for a pancake breakfast, said Donna Deutchman CEO of Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV.
The neighborhood still has a bit of time until it completes and volunteers, like those from the Saugus High School club for Habitat for Humanity, are dedicating their time and effort to help.
“Today was one of the seven build days we are aiming to do, this was our second this year,” said Victoria De Anda, president of Saugus High School’s Habitat for Humanity club. “I love it, it’s very interesting to be able to interact with everyone around here, and see my peers actually giving back”
For those that would also like to help volunteer on the project you can visit the Habitat for Humanity website.