If there’s one thing Marines are no stranger of, it’s a “working party.”
Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, were called upon once again Wednesday for a working party, but these young men said this mission was much more rewarding than most.
“First to fight – first for working parties,” joshed said Cpl. Timothy Serback, a St. Louis native serving with H and S Company, 3rd Bn., 24th Marines.
The group of 10 enlisted reserve Marines volunteered a day of service and labor beautifying a section on Ashton Street in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.
Their mission: assist the Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston, a Massachusetts charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to building low-cost homes by forming partnerships with low-income families in need of decent and affordable housing.
Sgt. Jonathan Askins, a St. Louis native with H and S Co., 3rd Bn., 24th Marines, led his squad-size group of Marines in their mission.
“We were offered to help Habitat for Humanity today, but I personally felt privileged to come and work for them for a day,” Askins said. “It’s an honor to come out to Boston and be able to give back to the city that received us so well. It makes for a great experience.”
There were various jobs to be done, which all started at a house on the corner of Ashton Street and Arbutus Street. The volunteers arrived early that morning and were quickly put to work – pulling out dead tree stumps, shrubs and weeds, picking up trash from out the street and sidewalk, and helping renovate and construct the interior of a house by nailing down floorboards and wall frames.
“They made a lot of progress today, which will have a big impact on the community when they see this area nice, neat and clean,” said Gerry Patton, construction superintendent, Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston.
Although the Marines spent one day on this individual project, Patton said his mission in this section of the neighborhood will continue until he and volunteers have constructed nice, clean houses for families to move into for an affordable price. Families are selected based on their level of need, willingness to work, acceptance of responsibilities and ability to repay a mortgage.
“I think this great for this city and great for the Marines who worked here today,” said Patton. “They should all know that one day people are going to be living in a nice home, in a nice section of the neighborhood because of their hard work today.”
Stark said it was beneficial to call upon to reserve Marines to partake in refurbishing house – a lot of the Marines used their skill sets that they use every day in the civilian world, when not activated by the Marine Corps.
“We’re really good when it comes down to it. When it’s time to work, it’s time to work. And when it’s time to play, it’s time to play,” said Stark. “We’ve been doing both of those in Boston, so we appreciate the job we’re doing here, and we realize its importance as well.”
According to local residents of the neighborhood, to include Sam Jones, a mail deliveryman with United States Postal Service, the neighborhood has seen worse days. In the recent past, crime and violence has struck in just about every part of the neighborhood.
“It’s a little rough around the neighborhood and its nice to see the outside world care,” said Jones. “Walking by I can already see that this part of the block is better looking than it was yesterday. Someone will really appreciate that when they move in.”
The Marines who chipped in to this major effort all felt proud when the day was done.
“We gave new life to an old neighborhood,” said Lance Cpl. James Reese, also from St. Louis, serving with H and S Co., 3rd Bn., 24th Marines.
Resident Bridgett Green agreed.
“This place looks beautiful now,” the Bostonian said.
The Marines' service was in conjunction with Marine Week Boston, where Marine units from all over the country joined forces in Boston to volunteer with community groups, host physical fitness challenges and sports clinics in city parks, and showcasing state-of-the-art Marine vehicles, aircraft and equipment.