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Minnesota National Guard
Aviation Brigade, Habitat for Humanity support community

BRAINERD, Minn " Soldiers of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) participated in a re-shingling project for the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity on a small street in Brainerd, Minn, June 6-8 They helped a local family keep a roof over their head, literally

"Projects like this make me realize how lucky I am," said Command Sgt Maj James Kampsen, the 34th CAB command sergeant major from Sauk Rapids, Minn "It feels great that we are able to help somebody out when they need it I like being able to help community members, especially in a community that has given so much support to us"

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The 34th CAB contacted Habitat for Humanity earlier this year in search of volunteer opportunities to give back to the community while they were at the Camp Ripley Training Center conducting their two-week annual training Working with Kevin Pelkey, the executive director of Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity, they were able to coordinate a re-shingling project in the Brainerd area

The 34th CAB Soldiers went right to work, removing the shingles the first day and completed the removal task nearly six hours ahead of schedule The Soldiers returned the following two days to finish re-shingling the roof for home-owner, Kalaya Roberts

Last summer, Roberts, a recently laid-off, single mother-of-three, discovered the shingles on her home installed in 2004 were faulty and spent a lengthy amount of time on the phone with both her insurance company and the shingles manufacturer to have them replaced After much back-and-forth communication between both agencies, Roberts ended with the burden of paying for half of the cost of the singles and all of the labor Because her home was built by Habitat for Humanity, she contacted Pelkey to see if he could help Pelkey found a perfect opportunity for the 34th CAB

"[These Soldiers] are giving so much already in service to our country and community," Pelkey said "It's really cool that [they] are doing more Above and beyond"

Three years ago, Pelkey worked with the 34th CAB on a separate project putting up trusses on a new building, he said It went so well, it surprised him on the short amount of time it took the Soldiers to complete the project Normally, the volunteers for building projects are retirees, he said, so projects don't usually move along this fast

Thanks to the 34th CAB's volunteer work, Roberts was able to get all of the labor required to install the shingles Pelkey, who's worked for Habitat for Humanity for more than 14 years, said her church was working to raise money to pay for the other half of the bill for the shingles themselves, but Habitat for Humanity would assist in covering the remaining costs

In the last 22 years, Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity built over 75 homes in the local community and supports funding toward the building of 78 homes in Guatemala, a program they have participated in since 1976 Up to 10% of the area's Habitat for Humanity funding goes to support the international community

Soldiers participating in the re-shingling felt a great sense of pride in their work

"Habitat for Humanity is a great organization to support," said Spc Terril Parkinson, a cook with the 34th CAB headquarters, and a Blaine, Minn, resident "They provided all the tools we needed to do a quality job and anything they didn't have readily available, they picked up for us"

"The family was very supportive," he continued "It was great to see the kids help out You can tell they genuinely appreciated our presence I was glad to help out"

Pfc Mary Hickey said that she would be looking for additional opportunities to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in the future
"It was really fun and was cool to learn new skills," she said "I would love to do it again "¦ I plan on getting myself and my fiancé involved with Habitat for Humanity on the civilian side"

At the end of a hard day's work, 34th CAB Soldiers put their hearts into the project and received a greater sense of what it takes to serve in the Minnesota National Guard as a Citizen-Soldier, helping their local communities

June 8, 2012
Story and photos by Staff Sgt Ashlee Lolkus
34th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

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