Fifteen volunteers from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 took their “Can Do” spirit to Camarillo last month to construct a patio for a teen group home.
Using materials donated by businesses and independent professionals from the local area, the Seabees donated a day’s work to build the 8-foot-high covered patio and transform the state-funded facility into a more comfortable home.
“When the young women arrive here, they have just left a place where they were either abused or neglected,” said one of the home’s 10 guardians, Monique Mujica. “An addition like a patio may seem trivial, but it’s one of those details that make our facility feel like a home — a place where the youth here can relax, enjoy a day together and feel at ease.”
The home houses six girls 12 to 17 years old. State funds cover maintenance and operating cost, leaving nothing for added construction such as the patio. Amenities like that must be paid for through fundraising and volunteer efforts — the primary reason why the patio’s construction had been stalled for two years.
Builder 1st Class (SCW) William Reider, who coordinated the Navy’s effort, said the Seabees provided a variety of costly skills. The group included Navy builders, steelworkers, utilitiesmen, engineering aids and construction electricians who acted as carpenters, welders, plumbers, general engineers and electricians, respectively.
“A normal contract for a job with this many laborers could range up to $75 a person,” said Reider. “Taxpayers allowed the Navy to give us our skills. From our standpoint, it’s only fair to use these skills to help our community. We love our neighbors, and they can depend on us for help.”
Like the teens who live in the group home, facing an uncertain future is nothing new to many Sailors. It’s not uncommon for a Sailor to change homes and schools five to 10 times during an average career. Due to constant deployments and defense needs, military families often move from coast to coast or overseas, and it can be difficult for service members to get comfortable in a new home knowing they will probably move again soon.
Reider said volunteering helps quell any sense the local community might have that the Sailors are unapproachable, and it sets a good example for others to follow.
“The girls here aren’t used to seeing people do things for the sake of just being nice,” said Mujica. “It’s nice for them to see that people don’t have to do things because they are told or paid to, but rather because there is a sense of humanity in it.”
NMCB 3 takes part in about 100 volunteer events each year.