By Marcus Hill | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Civil Engineer Squadron hasn’t let the coronavirus pandemic curb their community work.
Each quarter, for the unit’s community involvement initiative, the 50th CES reaches out to local businesses or nonprofits to help clean their facilities, build fences or other requests.
While COVID compliance has altered how the unit completes its community work with physical distancing, wearing masks, and fewer Airmen permitted, it does not stifle their efforts.
“There are plenty of opportunities to help out the community that entail outdoor work, which enables us to stay away from large groups of people and the risk of confined or indoor spaces,” said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Voorhees, 50th CES superintendent. “[Airmen] like [the engagements] so much that it pretty much runs itself.”
Voorhees developed the program in 2019 to build rapport and provide Airmen an opportunity to assist the community.
This year, the 50th CES completed projects for Habitat for Humanity, cleaned the Sand Creek Trail, built a fence for the elderly in downtown Colorado Springs and in November, cleaned the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Work at the zoo included 10 Airmen cleaning and restocking the facility’s freezer, washing the hay barn, filling numerous debris carts with old hay and loading 50 bales of hay for an elephant barn.
“[Senior Airman] Justin Veenstra, took it upon himself to reach out to the zoo to see if they needed help with anything,” Voorhees said. “We have some creative folks in the CE squadron, so it’s really not difficult [to find quarterly engagements]. Plus, almost any organization in the local area would love to have help to keep things going.”
Veenstra, 50th CES structural journeyman, said it’s satisfying to know that Airmen can benefit locals during the pandemic.
The unit realizes the community has experienced difficulties caused by the pandemic and Veenstra hopes their skills ease those burdens.
“Most civilians and businesses have taken a big hit when it comes to finances and employees,” Veenstra said. “We try to do whatever it takes to help because not everyone is as fortunate as us during this time. If COVID-19 remains the same next year, we plan on helping out just as much if not even more. Times are difficult for everyone, so if we can do anything to help out, we will.”