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SOCSOUTH helps local church refurbish roof

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Florida City, Fla. September 27, 2012

From left to right: Special Operations Command South servicemembers, Air Force Tech Sgt. Greg Sowinski and Army Lt. Col. Stewart Mason, take off old roof shingles from St. Matthews Baptist Church in Florida City, Fla. From left to right: Special Operations Command South servicemembers, Air Force Tech Sgt. Greg Sowinski and Army Lt. Col. Stewart Mason, take off old roof shingles from St. Matthews Baptist Church in Florida City, Fla., Sept. 18, as part of a weeklong project to help fix the deteriorated roof. SOCSOUTH was one of several organizations involved in helping repair the 60-year-old building as part of the community outreach program where military members assigned to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., help residents in the surrounding areas. (Department of Defense photo by Sgt. 1st Class Alex Licea, Special Operations Command South Public Affairs Office)



For over 60 years, the St. Matthews Baptist Church has been a part of the Florida City community where residents have gathered for neighborhood events and Sunday morning religious services.

However, years of rain and wear and tear have left the church’s roof damaged with large holes, rotting wood and deteriorated roof shingles. It was a big concern for the church’s owner Elijah Dukes, whose family has owned the building since the 1950’s.

So it was a big surprise for Dukes when members of the Homestead Military Affairs Committee recruited the help of servicemembers assigned to Special Operations Command South, 482nd Fighter Wing, Homestead Job Corps, and other local business and organizations to help fix the badly damaged roof.

During the week-long roofing project, SOCSOUTH servicemembers helped improve the damaged area by removing the old wood, felt and shingles with brand new materials. Many of the roofing supplies were donated by Lowes Home Improvement store in Homestead, Fla.

Army Lt. Col. Stewart Mason, SOCSOUTH Headquarters Commandant, said it’s important for military leaders across the base to look outside of their military jobs and set an example for others to follow by helping community members in the local area.

Elijah Dukes, whose family has owned the building since the 1950’s, rolls out new roof felt for installation on the St. Matthews Baptist Church in Florida City, Fla., Sept. 18, as part of a weeklong project to help fix the deteriorated roof. SOCSOUTH was one of several organizations involved in helping repair the 60-year-old building as part of the community outreach program where military members assigned to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., help residents of the surrounding areas.(Department of Defense photo by Sgt. 1st Class Alex Licea, Special Operations Command South Public Affairs Office)

“As leaders, it’s important that we not only talk about action, but we go out and actually make it happen. It’s not just military activities that we need to be a part of,” he said.

Mason also spoke about the personal gratification he gets when doing projects such as this one.

For me personally, I enjoy doing things in the community and enjoy doing things for other people. I’m giving forward,” he said.

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Greg Sowinski, who also works at SOCSOUTH, spoke about how project like this help give the military a good image across the local community.

Army Lt. Col. Stewart Mason removes old roof felt and shingles from the St. Matthews Baptist Church in Florida City, Fla. Army Lt. Col. Stewart Mason removes old roof felt and shingles from the St. Matthews Baptist Church in Florida City, Fla., Sept. 18, as part of a weeklong project to help fix the deteriorated roof. Mason said it is important for military leaders stationed at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., to get involved in helping those within the base’s surrounding communities. (Department of Defense photo by Sgt. 1st Class Alex Licea, Special Operations Command South Public Affairs Office)

“I like when people see us [military members] out helping others in the community because it shows us in a different light where most people don’t typical see us in on a daily basis. For Dukes, the help on his building couldn’t have come at a better time.

“This project was really needed for some time and this group of people here are a godsend. All that I can say is ‘thank you’ and that is coming from a sincere heart,” said a teary-eyed Dukes. “What these groups of people have done here in two days would have taken me five or six years, and it was something I didn’t expect. I am full of joy!”

Mason hopes projects like this are the first of many in which the command can get involved in throughout the community.

“As a command, we need to be more involved in our community because we are helping our neighbors and it helps us be better-rounded individuals.”

St. Matthews Baptist Church is located on the corner of Lucy St. and 12th Ave. in Florida City, Fla.

Expires

3/27/2013

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Content Type: Announcement
Created at 9/27/2012 3:32 PM by 23
Last modified at 9/27/2012 3:32 PM by Adiutori, David A. CTR USSOUTHCOM/SOCSO (L)