December 29, 2013

Fort Jackson recruits volunteer to help repair home

During bad weather, Gwendolyn Tidwell had to use cans to catch the water that leaked from her roof.

During bad weather, Gwendolyn Tidwell had to use cans to catch the water that leaked from her roof.

But the leaks are gone after about 40 Fort Jackson recruits training to be soldiers helped make repairs around her home as volunteers for the Home Works program, which is wrapping up its holiday repair blitz today.

“I think this is about the best Christmas present anyone could get,” Tidwell said.

The Fort Jackson trainees chose to stay in Columbia instead of going home on leave for the holidays.

“They’re a blessing to me,” Tidwell said.

On Saturday, Tidwell made brownies and cupcakes for the volunteers while they worked around her house.

Hank Chardos, program director for Home Works, demonstrated how to build a fence on the side of the house.

“This is what we call manual labor,” said Chardos.

“That’s what we do in the Army, sir,” said Joaquin Mesa.

And the volunteers were hands-on in the building process. Klariza Rivero was in charge of using a level to make sure the boards were even.

“The only level-headed person around here is Klariza,” Chardos joked.

He also instructed some on how to use a drill to screw in the boards.

Fykadu Dablo used a drill for the first time, while another volunteer, Tian Liu, gave him advice.

“It’s like your M-16,” Liu said.

Apparently, the comparison had been made to power tools throughout the day.

“Everything’s an M-16 around here,” Chardos said. “I don’t know if I’m safe.”

While the construction work was new for some, a civilian volunteer has been volunteering for almost half his life.

Michael Stoner, 20, is from Aiken and he said this is his 10th year working with Home Works. He worked with his dad and brother on the roof, and Stoner estimated that he has helped lay about 20 or 30 roofs around South Carolina.

“The Christmas season is a time when you can buy things or you can spend time with people,” Stoner said.

On Saturday, the volunteers spent time helping Tidwell. “They’re like my angels,” she said.

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