In the spring of 2011, a Marine stood on the porch steps of his new home in Annapolis, MD. He was not thinking about the beautiful row house that he would now share with his wife and four children, but was looking down at the porch that he helped build with his own hands. He was contemplating his spirit of service with a renewed vigor and hope.
Ronald Moulden had been retired from the Marine Corps for many years, and he struggled with finding stable housing for his family. But he never gave up. There is a saying in the Corps – “Once a Marine, always a Marine” and Marines don't quit.
In Ronald's case, that lifelong sentiment of dedication to cause and country was about to foster another passion and a love for a new corps – serving his community aside the Corporation for National and Community Service's (CNCS) AmeriCorps program and Habitat for Humanity.
Ronald became a new homeowner because of the efforts of local national service members and volunteers, and hundreds of hours of his own “sweat equity” invested in the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Ever since that day, Moulden has recruited other veterans, family members, and friends to help build homes for his fellow community members in need. In addition to a new corps, Moulden had a new mantra – “AmeriCorps Works.”
Although the steady Marine Ronald Moulden took off his uniform, his service was not quite done.
Building Vets a Brighter Future
Last year, as the Veterans Corps launched, more than 125 veterans turned out in Annapolis and Baltimore, MD, to build homes in a partnership between Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake and CNCS.
This year, AmeriCorps joined forces with Habitat for Humanity and completed hundreds of home rehabilitation, rebuild, and renovation projects. Many of the projects are supported by local military installations, wounded warrior units, and veterans like Ronald Moulden. AmeriCorps members served as site leads, project managers, and corralled tens of thousands of volunteer hours.
The new Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps VetCorps provided more than 300 housing solutions to veterans and military families, and was recently recognized as a 2012 Service Impact Award Winner at the National Conference on Volunteerism and Service.
Paying it Forward
At a recent build project in a distressed neighborhood in Baltimore, Ronald and I worked side by side. He shared with me how he and his son have volunteered more than 600 hours on Habitat builds, including their own home.
“Does AmeriCorps work?” he asked me rhetorically. “If you ask my four kids and wife, they will tell you that without AmeriCorps, or Habitat for Humanity, I wouldn't have a home … I am proud to be giving back with other veterans – it's who I am, and who I will always be.”
Thank you for your continuing service Ronald, and welcome to a new corps. We need you and others like you to make our communities stronger -- one porch step at a time!
Koby Langley is an Iraq War Veteran, and serves as the Senior Advisor for Wounded Warrior, Veteran and Military Family Initiatives at the Corporation for National and Community Service.