group of five veteran volunteers

Veterans continuing to serve through Habitat

I learned many valuable life lessons during my service in the United States Air Force from 1994 to 2005. I learned the importance of having a place to call home. I learned that I can still have a positive impact on my community by continuing to serve it. And I learned that there are others just like me who want to continue to make the world a better place, not only for the hardworking people who live here now, but for generations to come.

I was able to apply each of these lessons in my work with San Diego Habitat, thanks to The Mission Continues, which offered me an opportunity to find empowerment and purpose after my military service. The Mission Continues empowers veterans to continue serving at home through community impact. Local Habitats throughout the United States host Mission Continues fellows, post-9/11 veterans who serve 20 hours a week for 26 weeks. With Habitat, these fellows work to empower others through shelter and to help build stronger, more stable communities.

I was honored to accept one of these fellowships to work with San Diego Habitat to breathe life into their veteran service and neighborhood revitalization programs, both of which were still in their inception. After my fellowship ended, I joined the Habitat family full-time to manage both programs, but I knew I needed some help. I turned to my fellow veterans and The Mission Continues once again.

Vets helping vets

Mission Continues fellows have come to Habitat via different journeys, but all with the same fierce commitment to lifting up entire communities and helping others achieve their goals and find their successes.

San Diego Habitat’s neighborhood revitalization is a critical tool for change, and Mission Continues fellows are invaluable to those efforts. Many of the new construction sites are nestled into older neighborhoods that are in need of attention and care. The goal is to improve the communities around those sites and to support families who already own their homes through critical home repair and sustainable living and veteran programs.

I remember when we sat — surrounded by decades of family photos — in the kitchen of a woman who was in the midst of receiving a major health, safety and sustainability overhaul to her home. She smiled as we talked about the project, lauded our team for professionalism and respect of the home she has loved for 40 years, and hugged us in thanks as we left.

The relationships built, the joyful neighbors, the transformation of entire neighborhoods — that’s what it means to serve. The partnership between Habitat for Humanity and The Mission Continues is a shining example of how our diverse, interwoven experiences bring us together to find purpose and to continue our contributions to something greater than ourselves.

For more information about Habitat’s work with veterans and our partnership with The Mission Continues, email [email protected].