FORT BENNING, Ga.- Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, participated in a Warrior Outreach home repair project in Phenix City, Ala., Sept. 14.
The project helped Helen Brown, widow of Bobby B. Brown, who served in the military until 1971. At the time of his death, March 22, 2011, he was an emergency management director.
“I received an email about the project and thought it would be a good way to establish team building, get soldiers involved in the community and out the barracks,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steve Gonzalez, a platoon sergeant assigned to 2-69 AR, 3rd ABCT, 3rd ID. “I had seven soldiers volunteer for the project.”
This is Gonzalez’s second year volunteering.
“Volunteering gives me the ability to bond with my soldiers. I get to know them better and how they feel about doing projects verses the everyday Army job,” said Gonzalez.
After hearing about the volunteer project, Pvt. Akbar Robinson, a native of Detroit, Mich., and a tank driver assigned to Company D, 2-69 AR, 3rd ABCT, 3rd ID decided that Saturday he would not do the usual and sleep in. Instead he chose to exercise one of the seven Army values, selfless service.
On the ride to Phenix City Robinson didn’t really know what he volunteered himself to do, he just knew he volunteered. This was his first time volunteering since he joined the Army and didn’t mind because he used to volunteer back at home.
“The first thing I did when I got off the truck was look at the house. I said to myself ‘we got work to do.’” That’s all I was saying, ‘we got a lot of work to do,’” said Robinson.
“It’s a very nice house. You could tell if somebody worked on it, it could look really nice,” said Robinson. “We first sorted through the bricks that were stacked in front of her house. We moved those first because appearance is everything.”
Along with sorting through bricks, the soldiers did lawn work, cut down vines and bushes, picked up old peaches and removed old paint before applying new paint.
What kept him motivated was seeing other Soldiers, including his platoon sergeant, working hard, sweating like they were doing physical training, and breaking their neck to get the job done, said Robinson.
While he was working, he noticed Mrs. Brown walking around smiling a couple of times and that made him feel really good. He was very surprised and shocked at himself because he volunteered to do this. He wasn’t forced or "volun-told," as soldiers say.
“I called my mom when we got finished. She was shocked that I got up early on a Saturday morning and did volunteer work on somebody else’s house,” said Robinson.
She (his mother) also told him to keep it up, that the Army has changed him in a good way. Not only has the Army disciplined him, but has taught him how to think about others.
“I didn’t even see that until she said it,” said Robinson.
When he returned to the barracks he shared his experience with other soldiers and saw a different side of his platoon sergeant.
“Volunteering on Saturday wasn’t like work,” said Robinson. “The noncommissioned officers that were there talked to us and we interacted with each other on a different level.”
“I feel good about myself when I help others,” said Robinson. “I appreciate the opportunity to volunteer and thank you for trusting my hands to help others.”