Spc. Jessie Rodriguez, Staff Sgt. Gina Wang, Spc. Amber Buckelew, Sgt. 1st Class Rosalba Rodriguez, and Sgt. Wilfredo Alvarez at the Haven for Hope during the Labor Day weekend. Photo by Steven Galvan
By Steven Galvan, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
2 JULY 2014
While many Americans were enjoying a long three-day Labor Day weekend, Soldiers from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas gave some of their personal time to help the homeless at the Haven for Hope. Haven for Hope is an organization that offers a place of hope and new beginnings for people in Bexar County experiencing homelessness.
The volunteer effort was the idea of Staff Sgt. Gina Chang, noncommissioned officer in charge of ISR Comparative Pathology Branch. Chang, along with Sgt. 1st Class Rosalba Rodriguez, Sgt. Wilfredo Alvarez, and Spcs. Jessie Rodriguez and Amber Buckelew teamed up with 10 other volunteers to serve food to more than 350 children and adults, prepare more than 1,800 sandwiches, and clean the facility.
“We’re visitors here [Bexar County] and we need to make a difference,” said Chang. “The Army gives us the opportunity and the time so we should be grateful and give back.”
According to Haven for Hope Director of Volunteer Services, Sonia Lopez the volunteers inspire the staff and guests.
“They fill a critical need, supplement resources and contribute to a culture that cultivates compassion,” Lopez said. “In addition to their duties, they also engage our members and guests in active listening, share stories and provide fellowship—all powerful forces for change and healing.”
“I believe that it is important for military members to volunteer in the community because it is part of our Army values,” added Buckelew. “Something so little as volunteering a couple of hours to make sandwiches or help serve food can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Chang plans to have more volunteer opportunities at the Haven for Hope and other organizations in the community that need the assistance.
“At least once a month,” she said. “Some people don’t realize that it doesn’t take much effort to make a difference in someone’s life.”
“We show integrity by doing the right thing,” added Buckelew. “The right thing to do is to be an active member of the community.”