WOCs team up with Hanover Habitat for Humanity for outreach project

Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Army, visits warrant officer candidates Feb. 24, 2018, during a Habitat for Humanity home build in Mechanicsville, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Matt Lyman)

MECHANICSVILLE- Va. — Warrant Officer Candidates assigned to Class 18-001 of the Virginia National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School, taught at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute at Fort Pickett, linked up with a crew from Hanover Habitat for Humanity, Feb. 24, 2018, to complete a community project in Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Each WOCS class must plan and execute a community project to graduate to the final phase of their training. Class 18-001, after months of coordination, arrived on the Hanover Habitat for Humanity jobsite and helped Joanna Gerbino, a construction associate with Hanover Habitat for Humanity, and her crew get some work done on a local Habitat home.

Warrant officer candidates enrolled in the Virginia National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School team up with Hanover Habitat for Humanity Feb. 24, 2018, to help build a house in Mechanicsville, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Matt Lyman)

“Having Hanover Habitat for Humanity chosen for the Warrant Officer Candidate School project means the world to me,” said Gerbino. “We see the National Guard come out in times of crisis, it’s great to see them make a choice to come engage with us in a time of such great joy for our family we are building for.”

The workday started promptly at 8:30 a.m. with a safety briefing and then the candidates got to work. When they arrived, the roof of the house was only about half-installed and by lunchtime, the roof was completed and another team of volunteers started roof sheeting and tarpaper.

“We are so lucky to have been chosen by the candidates for their service work. They have been on top of the entire planning process, and continually preparing themselves for this day,” said Amanda Gunter, Director of Community Engagement.

“And now, we see their organization and dedication play out right in front of us. They have been willing and able to do any task set before them, and with a smile. They have accomplished a lot in one day, but most importantly they were able to put the roof sheeting and tar paper that keeps the house dry when rain comes,” added Gunter.

WOC Shawn Snyder served as the project officer and was the motivation behind Class 18-001 choosing Habitat for Humanity as their community outreach project.

“We wanted to do something unique and outside of the box of traditional Warrant Officer Candidate School options,” explained Snyder. “We decided [on] partnering with Hanover Habitat for Humanity for the class project because we thought it would be a way for us to make the biggest community impact in the time we had to execute our project,” added Snyder.

The WOCs worked until 3:30 p.m. on a variety of tasks from cutting wood, caulking seams in exterior walls, miscellaneous exterior finishing and installing hurricane ties.

“We knew it was a good project, but we also knew they were trying to build a house and I was concerned how much we would actually be able to accomplish with the time we allotted for our project,” said Snyder.
“I was extremely surprised, just how much we all accomplished with eight WOCs, the Habitat staff, other volunteers, the homeowner and even the future homeowner for the next house,” added Snyder.

“I think we align in our job focus, all of us do a job because we love humanity, and we want to see this world become a better and safer place,” said Gerbino. “The Virginia National Guard does this through protecting us at home and abroad when called upon and Hanover Habitat for Humanity does this by helping families in our community building strength, stability and self-reliance through the homes we build,” concluded Gerbino.

The WOCs will be entering their third and final phase of training before earning their bars later this year. Phase III will test candidates’ ability to lead a team or squad through a tactical exercise, requiring them to implement all of their battle drill studies and warrior tasks.


More photos from the Habitat for Humanity build:

Virginia WOCs partner with Habitat for Humanity for community project