Cannon team gives a hand up

Greg Allen

Habitat for Humanity project provides affordable housing

Paulette Aguilar is all smiles these days. She is eagerly waiting for October when she plans to move into her new home in Portales.
And much of her happiness can be directly attributed to the efforts of Cannon Airmen, retired and active duty, and family members who spend their Saturdays working on her home.
“I never thought I would have my own home,” said the single mother of two teens as she looks at her soon-to-be completed three-bedroom, two-bath house.
Ms. Aguilar was selected by the Roosevelt County Habitat for Humanity for home ownership said Joyce Davis, the volunteer executive director, because the program provides a “hand up, rather than a hand out” for people.
“We won’t build a home until we select a family,” she said. Selection is based on certain economic criteria and a prospective home-owner’s willingness to provide at least 500 hours of “sweat equity,” or working on the homes themselves.
In addition to labor provided by the owner, the homes are built almost totally through volunteer efforts of the community, said Mrs. Davis, a retired instructor at Eastern New Mexico State University.
The community that has provided the bulk of the volunteer work has come from Cannon.
Project manager Jon Gove retired from Cannon earlier this month and averages about 20 hours a week at the site.
The former master sergeant has been involved in Habitat for Humanity projects since 2003. During the week, when his work force is on duty at Cannon, he gathers supplies and looks for deals from the Clovis and Portales business sector.
“We get a lot at cost or even below cost,” said Mr. Gove, “and some places have never sent us a bill.”
His wife, Pam, works at Cannon, and was recently elected treasurer for the organization.
Senior Airman Joey Hanson, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, worked construction before he came into the Air Force and said he enjoys spending his Saturdays working on the house.
Steven Buchholz is the son of Master Sgt. Dawn Buchholz, 27th EMS, and is job hunting. As he paints, he explains that his volunteer efforts will look good on his resume.
Mrs. Davis said that volunteers are screened and briefed before they start work and for their efforts receive coffee, donuts and lunch, as well as a heartfelt thanks for their efforts.
She added that the next project will be in Clovis, and, as always, volunteers are always welcome.
Meanwhile, Ms. Aguilar continues to smile as she works next to members of the Cannon community, individuals intent on giving a “helping hand up” to a better life.
Individuals interested in volunteering can meet at 8 a.m. Saturday at 306 E. Kaywood Lane in Portales.