Rebuilding Miami, Home by Home
For Immediate Release
June 25, 2013
MIAMI - The 758th Engineer Company is a prime example of what "Twice the Citizen" means to the community during their Innovative Readiness Training exercise in Perrine, Fla., June 1-28, 2013.
The 758th, in collaboration with Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade, used their annual training to renovate two houses within the same area as their Lt. Col. Luis C. Martinez Army Reserve Center.
In this photo released by the Miami Dolphins, players from the players from the team paint alongside 758th Engineer Company soldiers outside Mrs. Grant’s home during the 758th’s Innovative Readiness Training with Rebuilding Miami Together, June 7, 2013, in Perrine, Fla. (photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins)
Rebuilding Together is a national nonprofit organization that assists low-income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly, veterans and/or disabled, in renovating homes to make them more livable and accessible.
"Working with Rebuilding Together gives our soldiers an opportunity to perform their specific skill set while also outreaching to our community," said 1st Lt. Johnny Walker, company commander, 758th Engineer Company. "Projects like this progress the image of the Army Reserve as a whole by showing that we care about the community and that we can both benefit by helping each other."
Both homes that the 758th renovated are located on the same street just a few houses apart. 101-year-old Ruby Grant owns one of the homes, and 99-year-old Mary Hill owns the other. Grant and Hill have been best friends since they were young children and have lived in their respective houses since construction in the late 1940s.
The project was done in three rotations to maximize the time and abilities of the soldiers in the 758th. Each platoon spent at least one week working on the job site and utilized the rest of their extended combat training time completing their Structured Self Development courses and participating in extensive Army Physical Readiness Training, including an Army Physical Fitness Test.
"These soldiers have an efficiency of a different level, and my grandmother and I are so grateful for their dedication," said Derrick Bowman, grandson of Hill. "The speed and quality of their work is absolutely exceptional. They are always communicating with me and my family to let us know the progress, and it's a great thing to see this type of professionalism from service members."
Bowman is a former Marine and is a lieutenant for the Pinecrest Police Department. His late grandfather, Frank Hill, served in the Army during World War II.
"Since the soldiers have been out here, the whole community has come to the street discussing how surprised they were with the work that was being done," said Bowman. "Most people don't realize that soldiers do more than just fight for our country, they help build it as well."
The project also brought the attention of high profile members of the Miami community. Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll, punter Brandon Fields and offensive tackle Nate Garner worked alongside soldiers during the beginning of the project.
According to Garner, the players love going in the community and helping people who need it. He found it amazing to get out there with the different organizations and help residents in rebuilding their home.
Volunteers from the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Administration, Young Government Leaders, Miami Dolphins Women's Organization, Fins Weekend committee members and Florida Senator Dwight Bullard volunteered at the project sites as well.
"The fact the Army Reserve is pouring their time, effort, and energy into making this project happen speaks volumes to people in the communities in which I serve," said Bullard. "Seeing the work first hand only enhances what we perceive about our service members. It is all about protecting what is good about our country and the people in it."
Both Grant's home and Hill's home needed extensive renovation. The 758th did a complete electrical overhaul of both homes because they no longer were acceptable under Florida Residential Building Codes.
The 758th's main accomplishments for the Grant and Hill homes were the following: Americans with Disabilities Act ramp entrances, updated sewer system pipes, interior dry wall replacement throughout the houses with new interior and exterior paint and entirely new bathrooms with handicapped accessible entrances and equipment.
The 758th also replaced joists and floors, relocated a fuse box, mounted washer and dryer connections and installed new appliances in both homes along with numerous other renovations.
"Renovating these homes is great training outside of the combat zone in which we get to learn more about our job and different ways to utilize the skills we have learned," said Spc. Emanuel Walton, plumber, 758th Engineer Company. "This community is where my family and I live. Being able to help my community as a reservist makes me appreciate my decision to join the Army."
The Army Reserve motto "Twice the Citizen" denotes vigilance and a wide-ranging scope of ability and expertise. The 758th Engineer Company out of Perrine, Fla., has proven that the motto is more than just words. It is a commitment to the nation and the American people.
ABOUT REBUILDING TOGETHER Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade chapter is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that preserves homeownership and revitalizes neighborhoods by providing free of charge rehabilitation services to the elderly, veterans, disabled and low income homeowners. Through the support of corporate sponsors, local businesses and the hands-on work of volunteers, the organization donates approximately $250,000 in market value each year by focusing on home modifications, energy efficiency and safety concerns. The organization is part of a network of more than 200 affiliates and is the nation's leading nonprofit working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize communities. For more information, visit www.rebuildingtogethermiami.org.
Donna Fales, Executive Director
Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade, Inc.