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Habitat for Humanity volunteers build
homes in the bay

by Airman Jose Climaco
Thunderbolt staff writer

Master Sgt. Dale Steen, 6th Maintenance Squadron 1st sergeant, pounds a roofing board in place while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

Photo by Nikki Steen

It all started 10 years ago for an Airman who volunteered in the community with his squadron. The Airman stationed at Cannon AFB N.M., saw an opportunity to make a difference with his hands. He helped build new homes.

Master Sgt. Dale Steen, 6th Maintenance Squadron 1st sergeant, continues to volunteer and helps Airmen who want to do the same.

Sergeant Steen is responsible for coordination of volunteers from MacDill to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

The organization provides an opportunity to volunteer alongside members of your squadron or family. Those who think they need to be proficient with a set of tools are wrong.

"You don't need to be a handy-man," said Sergeant Steen.

Volunteers are trained on what they'll be working on and are supervised during the building project.

Sergeant Steen said he doesn't know much about building but has learned things along the way, which he uses at home. He brings his wife along when he volunteers. He likes working on something and seeing the results after each step is completed. After completing a house "it's neat to realize you did that. You can see the results and say hey, I did that," he added.

One unique aspect of this volunteer program is working along with the person who is buying the house.

"You're directly connected to what's happening and who you're doing it for," said Sergeant Steen.

Those who think their schedule is just too full should be interested to find out it isn't that time consuming. Volunteers help build new homes on Saturday mornings and can expect to volunteer for five or six hours at a time. They may do it once or as many times as they like. Finishing a home could take about 18 weeks.

Besides building houses, volunteers can recycle parts from old homes such as sinks, cabinets or furniture. The first sergeant said that can be fun; using crowbars and sledgehammers on homes can help him take out frustrations sometimes.

The 1st sergeant has been coordinating volunteers here for two weeks. In that time he has picked up about 20 volunteers. Those interested in volunteering should contact Sergeant Steen. The often busy first sergeant said e-mail is usually the best option, (dale.steen02@macdill.af.mil) but his phone number is 828-9213. Volunteers are required to attend a briefing explaining the details of the program and must be at least 16 years old. Habitat for Humanity's local Web site is www.habitathillsborough.com.

Feedback from volunteers has been good; they really enjoy it and have a good time and most volunteer more than once, said Sergeant Steen.

Staff Sgt. Eric Mutschlechner, 6th MXS periodic inspections journeyman, is a volunteer who is no stranger to Habitat for Humanity.

"I remembered how fun it was and wanted to give my time to the community," said Sergeant Mutschlechner, who recently volunteered again after not doing so for a while.

He said he's familiar with construction and enjoys using those skills when possible.

"It's definitely satisfying. You feel you accomplished something and you're working toward a common goal. It's a team effort," he added.

Volunteering for Habit for Humanity can be a rewarding experience for those who like to make a difference. It provides an opportunity to build camaraderie and a home for families in need.




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