America Sailors Participate in 'Home Builders Blitz'
150625-N-AV234-097 SAN DIEGO (June 25, 2015) Master-at-Arms 1st Class Raul Cabin, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), clears loose dirt at Habitat for Humanity's Home Builders Blitz, an initiative to build four homes in five days. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Somers Steelman/Released)
America Sailors Participate in 'Home Builders Blitz'
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Somers Steelman, USS America (LHA 6) Public Affairs
EL CAJON, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) volunteered at Habitat for Humanity's Home Builders Blitz in El Cajon, Calif., June 24.

Home Builders Blitz is Habitat for Humanity's initiative to partner with the community to build four houses in five days. San Diego Habitat for Humanity has participated in 4 Home Builders Blitz events since 2006.

"We laid the foundations on Monday. Today on day three we are rolling along adding siding and roofing to the home," said Shandy Arwood, Habitat for Humanity's community engagement manager. "We plan on completing all four homes by Friday."

America's volunteers assisted four different contractors in the Blitz. They lent a hand in a variety of tasks including construction clean up, event services and traffic control.

Master-at-Arms 1st Class Christopher Soma, assigned to America, initiated and coordinated the command's participation in the event, and has been the point of contact for a total of five events.

"I touched base initially with my division," said Soma. "After talking to my fellow first classes and some of the junior Sailors I know, it seemed more and more people wanted to get involved. That's when the decision was made to make it a command-wide event."

The Builders Blitz model is designed to build the homes with zero cost to Habitat for Humanity by seeking donations of construction materials and volunteers for necessary labor.

"Over 50 percent of all our jobs have military volunteers," said Arwood.

"This is what we do," said Soma. "We come together with a common focus and get things done for people who need us."

More than 70 Sailors from America have been involved in these events. Machinist's Mate 1st Class Sabella Batey, assigned to America, said that volunteering gave her a new perspective on what it means to give back.

"I feel it is very important to volunteer, because a lot of us take things for granted," said Batey. "These houses are built for low income families. It is important that we humble ourselves and remember not everyone is as fortunate as we are."

According to Habitat for Humanity, the first national Home Builders Blitz in 2006 brought together more than 1,000 professional home builders and 130 Habitat affiliates across the country to build 459 homes, providing housing for nearly 2,000 people. Over the years Sailors have played a significant role in these projects.

"It is extremely important for Sailors in the Navy to volunteer," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey Jones, assigned to America. "It brings a sense of community not only to the individual service members, but also to local businesses and residents."

America plans to participate in two Habitat for Humanity builds every month, until they complete the post shakedown availability period.
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