NASA Volunteers Bring Sky-high Enthusiasm to Build Sites in Texas, Florida
AMERICUS, Ga., Feb. 18, 2003 - Retired National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials, along with NASA contractors, are bringing their sky-high pursuits down to earth as they help build Habitat for Humanity homes in Florida and Texas.
"I like to build things and I like to work with tools, so I just decided when I retired that maybe I ought to go over and help them out," said retired Lt. Gen. Forrest McCartney, director of Kennedy Space Center from 1986 until 1992. "You know you're doing something worthwhile for people who are deserving. It's a win-win for everybody."
The 72-year-old retired U.S. Air Force general spends a few days a week building with Habitat for Humanity near his home in Indian Harbour Beach - when he's not playing racquetball or running three miles a day. He says he got involved with Habitat for Humanity International after the organization's founder and president, Millard Fuller, stopped by Kennedy Space Center for a tour. McCartney builds alongside Bob Sieck, retired launch director for the space shuttle; Lee Solid, retired vice president of Rocketdyne and Rockwell; and the homeowners.
"I am thrilled that these talented people are helping Habitat for Humanity in such a significant way," said Fuller. "The involvement and support of people like General McCartney inspires others to come forward to lend a hand. I am profoundly impressed and grateful for the good help of these retired NASA people and NASA contractors."
In Houston, engineers with United Space Alliance also volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and have even organized a complicated work schedule by developing a computer program to keep track of which volunteers are building on any given day.
"I just enjoy the satisfaction of watching a house go up and watching the families as you see them realizing something that's been their dream," said Jerry Pfleeger, director of flight operation integration at United Space Alliance. "Just like the space business, it presents some challenges, such as planning, scheduling and surprises, that you have to work around. Most folks in the space program take pride in their jobs and we find it's the same thing on a Habitat house. They put in a lot of little personal touches."
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 87 nations have built and sold more than 125,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.