After six years of veteran casework, I was admittedly burned out last year. I didn’t think I’d miss angry and/or long-winded vets but I do – I especially miss the nice ones!
This week I was reminded why I love helping veterans. I had the pleasure to participate in a project led by The Mission Continues, a group of veteran volunteers from across the country who came to Detroit to make selected community sites better for the neighborhood.
The real neighborhoods too, nothing downtown and fancy. There was not a lot of hoopla or external resources to help them out but they brought it all: grand ideas, resources and passion.
Southwest Solutions was offered the opportunity to be a site and our Community School location at Priest Elementary School was selected. It’s located a couple blocks from my office and the neighborhood is struggling. Abandoned homes and blight outnumber occupied residences but those who are there care.
I couldn’t make the first day but wanted to help out on the second (unscheduled) day to complete the various projects. I walked around to see where I could be of use and met Jose from Philadelphia. He transformed the outdoor classroom/community garden. I can’t imagine what it looked like Day 1 because there was still a lot of work to do on Day 2. The bulk of the Mission Continues group was at their scheduled site and had their tools with them. Consequently, there were limited number of shovels, buckets, and even water on a hot, cloudless day.
In true make-do military spirit, Jose pressed on. More than that he motivated the kids to do the same. He led and led by example. I could only stay a couple hours but when I came back around in afternoon he was still working – even though almost everyone else was gone.
This sense of an army coming to make things better touched me. As a peace-loving girl our endless military conflicts are hard on my heart. I don’t know what others think anymore when they hear American GIs are around but I know this is what they should feel – safe and hopeful. I was honored to work side by side with Jose and make a very small contribution to a very large effort.
As I love a good theme, I brought some Cokes and red/white/blue bombpops (a literally cool patriotic treat) because I wanted to do for a GI what so many GIs have done for others around the world.
This weekend we’re celebrating America’s Freedom, it’s a word that has been tarnished in recent years but this week I was reminded why we were lauded for being the “The land of the free and home of the brave”.
Thank you Jose and Mission Continues Team.
God Bless You and God Bless America.
The grounds were formerly covered in tall grass with no stones, greenery or mulch. You can see kids racking the tall grass in this Detroit News video.