BOWIE, Md. --
Outside the gates of Fort George G. Meade, Md. are 310 condominiums that were built in the 1970s. In its recent years, the property managers have struggled to keep up its appearances and functionally. Some homes neglected and others abandoned. In a recent initiative, Rebuilding Together Ann Arundel County (RTAAC) a non-profit organization, created a three-year project to repair homes for low-income residents in need within the county.
The sight of what over 200 volunteers from the National Capitol Region can do in just a few hours has changed a local community’s livelihood.
“This is the first stage of engaging the community and getting them involved,” Bruce Kane, RTAAC board member said. “Lots of folks here had some tough times, they’ve had some issues paying bills. We are here to help bring the community back to life and create some positive outcomes.”
With over 200 volunteers from the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance wing, National Capitol Region service members, RTAAC and CBRE, several projects were completed June 16, 2017.
Beginning in the early morning, groups were corralled and given tasks throughout the neighborhood. A major portion was a playground that was over-run with vines, trees and trash that made it unsafe for children.
“There are five projects being completed today (include date),” Kane said. “We’re building a dog park, rebuilding a pool shed at the community pool. We are also clearing out a park that has been over grown for 20 years, so a lot of the park area has been closed.”
Some of the other projects consisted of water mitigation. More than 40 volunteers hand dug and created French-drain systems over 200-feet long in trouble areas with standing water.
Knowing the issues this community was having, Master Sgt. Chad Stakolosa, 70th Operations Support Squadron first sergeant, reached out to RTAAC coordinators to see how Airmen could help.
“It was definitely a great feeling just to have the residents come outside of their homes to personally thank the volunteers for revitalizing their neighborhood,” Tech. Sgt. Kyle, 70th Operations Squadron National Cryptologic School instructor mentioned. “I truly enjoy giving back to the local community and the positive results that come from it.”
Just as the volunteers pulled away for completing the park, neighborhood children began to play catch. One stating that ‘this is the first time we have been able to play here, and we feel safe.’
“Together, we worked with the other volunteers to safely deconstruct the pool shed, which freed up a lot of space around the community pool,” Staff Sgt. Benjamin, 94th Intelligence Squadron cryptologic analyst said. “Also, we worked on re-surfacing the playground and clearing overgrown vegetation. This made the whole park much more open and safe for children to play and discourages vandalism.”
Future volunteer events will have participation from the entire community including Fort Meade, Arundel County Police, Red Cross of Southern and Arundel Community Development Services.
For more information on how to volunteer or help your local community, contact Rebuilding Together at www.rebuildingtogether.org