349 AMW volunteers help East Bay family

  • Published
  • By Grant Okubo
  • 349th AMW Public Affairs

A group of civic-minded Airmen from Travis Air Force Base recently demonstrated just how rewarding it is to give back to local communities.

The 19 Reserve and active-duty Airmen from the 349th Air Mobility Wing and 60th AMW volunteered in early October to help a low-income family in Hayward with a home rehabilitation project.

Working through a local nonprofit, Rebuilding Together Oakland/East Bay, Senior Airman Gregory Barlow, Jr. helped mobilize his Team Travis wingmen who volunteered to help with the project.

 “I was just looking for an opportunity to have service members become better members of the community, and experience working with the people who support us,” said Barlow.

The nonprofit and city of Hayward helped procure funds for supplies. Along with the aid of two contractors and other volunteers, the Airmen helped rebuild the family’s fence, which Barlow said was on the verge of collapse.

The Airmen spent an entire weekend working on the fence, but for Barlow, it was a labor of love and deeply gratifying. Many of the volunteers shared his enthusiasm for giving back to the local community.

“I felt very proud and excited,” said Airman 1st Class Colin Dudley, 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. It was incredible to see the difference we made in that backyard and how we made that family feel at the end, he said.

“I knew this was an opportunity that I could not pass up,” said Tech. Sgt. Anou Souvannavong, of the 349th Maintenance Squadron.

It was a great opportunity to meet other people and to help in his local city, he added.

“The most impressive thing was the sheer number of young, motivated Airmen who volunteered to give back to a community on their free weekend,” said Souvannavong. “Even though the scope was outside of their normal jobs, they stepped forward and took guidance from the professionals and knocked the job out of the park.”

Senior Airman Cartier Joy Cupino, 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-10 Extender crew chief, said she equally enjoys supporting humanitarian causes.

“I’ve been a longtime volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and helped them build a home in Chile,” said Cupino. “I was excited to volunteer on a project like this, represent my squadron and give back to the community with working hands.”

When the fence restoration was finished, the family was completely ecstatic with the results, said Barlow.

“It was impressive to see the leadership and dedication of the Airmen on-site,” said Lisa Malul, Executive Director at Rebuilding Together Oakland/East Bay. “The Airmen showed the warmth, kindness and grit you’d expect from our men and women in uniform. It was a special day for everyone.”