Giving back, Sandia style | December 27, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Column - December 27, 2013

Giving back, Sandia style

by Jeb Bing

Habitat for Humanity gained some helping hands this month as a team of volunteers from Sandia National Laboratories kicked off a new project that will partially demolish and rebuild a dilapidated 60-year-old house in Livermore. Once completed, Habitat will offer the house to a veteran.

Habitat for Humanity typically builds houses, but the Sandia crew, led by the lab's engineering services manager Larry Carrillo, went a step farther to rid the city of a run-down home and provide better living quarters for someone who has served our country.

"I couldn't be happier about this project," said Livermore Mayor John Marchand. "We are planning five more home renovation projects with Habitat similar to this one. I was heartened by the local residents who came to help, and particularly grateful for the number of volunteers who came from Sandia. This is going to have a very positive impact on the community."

Marchand and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) joined Carrillo and many Sandia employees and former employees in the demolition work to help worthy veterans and their families find a home in the East Bay, with Swalwell adding. "Our veterans served us, and now it's our turn to serve them."

As part of this approach to neighborhood revitalization, Habitat for Humanity targets homes, typically foreclosures, in blighted neighborhoods. It's less expensive and faster to rebuild an existing home, plus there is an abundance of these properties," explained Daryl Lee, corporate development officer for Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley.

Carrillo, a long-time Habitat volunteer, provided the impetus for the project. After leading Sandia teams for Habitat Build-a-Thon events in 2009 and 2010, he talked to Lee about creating a Habitat project in Livermore. He wanted a project in the Tri-Valley where Sandia employees could volunteer and help the local community. The Sandia volunteers said it is their way of giving back to the community where they live and work. The idea gained steam in the spring of 2013 when Lee, Sandia Community Relations officer Stephanie Beasly and Carrillo brought together Sandia, the city of Livermore and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley.

With the help of cities like Livermore, Habitat identifies and purchases properties, rebuilds the homes and eventually sells them to families with limited incomes. Lee said Habitat plans to rebuild two more houses in Livermore next year.

The Habitat event started with a safety briefing. Then the volunteers split into indoor and outdoor teams. The indoor team removed drywall, doors, fixtures, insulation and trim. The outdoor team cleared debris and overgrown vegetation from the backyard and removed an outdoor patio cover.

"Knowing that we were improving a house for a veteran and helping to improve the neighborhood was immensely satisfying." said Julie Fruetel, one of the Sandia volunteers. "It was great to see Congressman Swalwell and Mayor Marchand there in the morning getting just as dirty as the rest of us."

Work on the house will continue into spring, with various businesses and community groups sponsoring workdays. Sandia will have a second workday on Saturday, Jan. 11.


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