News: Soldiers making a difference
Story by Sgt. James Hale
ROY, Wash. – The soldiers from the 555th Engineer Brigade wouldn’t let a little rain stop them from helping the Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s surrounding community.
The 555th Engineer Brigade participated in the JBLM Make a Difference Day by cleaning and improving the Roy City Park in Roy, Wash., Oct. 22, Army units from across the base go out and volunteer their time working on projects in the communities surrounding the base to show thanks for the support these communities give the military.
Roy is a small community located out the east gate of JBLM where some service members live and others decided to call home after they retired. The Roy City Park consists of a playground, gazebo, Basketball court, horseshoe pit and a shaded picnic area.
“For us, having the soldiers here makes a huge difference,” said Karen Yates, Roy City mayor. “We have a Public Works Department of one person. Having a huge number of bodies out here makes this project, that would take our one employee a year, possible in a day.”
Eighty volunteers from the 555th came out to lend a hand and made it possible to remove graffiti, rake up all the leaves, paint buildings, replace a door on a storage building and put up a fence around the front of the park to keep out vehicles.
“Last year we reroofed the latrine building and we reran the water lines in the park,” said Col. Michael Brobeck, the brigade commander. “We brought about 80 volunteers from the brigade today to help with our partnership with Roy City, which I think shows the soldiers’ appreciation for what the community does for the base.”
“We’re trying to beautify and restore some of the aging structures that Roy has to offer here in the park,” said Sgt. Maj. James Mitchell, the 555th Engineer Brigade operations sergeant major. “I cleared my calendar to make sure I could make it to help. A lot of times I get the feeling that people are self-absorbed but this is an example of folks wanting to give to something larger than themselves.”
The soldiers used their personal knowledge of carpentry, landscaping and construction to help out with planting flowers, repairing doors and working the power tools needed to do these jobs.
Along with volunteers, projects like these need supplies as well. The Home Depot of Spanaway answered that call by donating paint, fence posts, power tools, plants and cleaning supplies needed for this project.
"We walked the park to see what the mayor wanted to do to clean up the park, and today we brought out some of our volunteers as well as the supplies that were needed so we could do our part," said Ben Harris, manager at the Spanaway Home Depot.
A lot of soldiers participate in volunteer programs like this throughout the year. Sgt. Lizbeth Rodriguez, a team leader with 555th, volunteered here in Roy last year and says she looks forward to doing more work in the park.
“I love doing volunteer work.” said Rodriguez. “My whole squad is with me here today. I try to participate in any community service opportunities that I can.”
After the volunteers finished, The Roy Lyons Club provided a meal and desert to say thanks for all the hard work and for helping make the Roy City Park more enjoyable for everyone.