758th Engineer Company help elderly couple during IRT exercise
November 16, 2011
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MIAMI-Twenty Reserve Soldiers from the 758th Engineer Company joined forces with the charity "Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade, Inc.," during an Innovative Readiness Training exercise in Miami, Nov. 5-7, 2011.
RTMD is a non-profit organization that caters to the needs of the elderly, the handicapped and military veterans. IRT exercises provide real world training opportunities that prepare service members for their wartime missions, while supporting the needs of America's underserved communities.
The 758th engineers took advantage of the partnership with RTMD when they renovated the home of Willie and Alvina Jenkins, an elderly Miami couple who had been on the charity's waiting list for two years.
"We help people out and it's great training for us," said Spc. Jorge Perez-Perez.
The Jenkins were victims of Hurricane Andrew, the Category 5 storm that hit Miami in 1992.
"We were right here, right here in the house," Willie said. "It sounded like a freight train coming. My wife and daughter were standing near the back door, which is glass. I never seen glass pucker in and out like that, I told them to get away from the door."
The strong winds shattered the glass door as soon as Willie's wife and daughter stepped away.
"I went and curled up in the closet until it was over," he said. "After Andrew, it looked like an atomic bomb had went off."
The engineers improved the home's safety standards, by making repairs and modifications with supplies and material that RTMD provided. The three bedrooms and two bathrooms needed the most work.
"I know how to put in a toilet now, that's so neat," said Pvt. 1st Class Daniela Agudelo, a carpenter who cross trained with the plumbers during the exercise.
"This is a perfect environment for MOS training," said Kamberger. "It keeps the Soldiers ready."
"I'm like a little kid at a toy store," said Alvina. "We love to see the community grow. I don't like to see houses in the neighborhood dormant because predators take up residences in there, then our children are not safe."
"We've made another family happy, and you can't put a dollar amount on safety," said James McCants a RTMD representative. "The partnership between the U.S. Army Reserve and Rebuilding Together is so appreciated."
Story & photos by Staff Sgt. Roger Ashley, 412th TEC PAO
Rebuilding Together Miami is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that preserves homeownership by providing free rehabilitation services to the elderly, veterans, disabled and low-income homeowners. The team of Rebuilding Together Miami and Sears Holding have rehabbed fifteen veteran’s homes in Dade County since the inception of the Heroes at Home program in 2008. Visit on-line.