On Jan. 18 six Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Soldiers reported for duty, not at the district, but at the St. Joseph Children’s Home, Louisville, as part of military outreach in the community.
The Soldiers were united in visiting the Home’s children by talking about being a soldier, showing their Army uniforms and letting the kids ask them questions about what they do, during an Eat and Greet at lunchtime. It was a social activity where the soldiers had lunch with the children.
St. Joseph Children’s Home is a child development center where 48 children aged 6-14 live in the home’s 12 cottages – or dorms - on site. They receive schooling and attend activities - art classes, like pottery, for example. (Pottery is very popular as one child told me, ‘I love pottery.’)
Staff Sgt. John Butts, Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District said the most important lesson he took away from the visit to the children’s home is that of structure and routine. “The children’s home is very organized, and it, by comparison is the same in the military. The kids live and sleep and have routine,” he said.
“I think it's extremely important for Service Members to be citizens of their communities. We often hear that today's smaller, all volunteer force has created a citizenry where fewer and fewer civilians have a close friend or family member who served,” said Lt. Col. Gene Porter, deputy chief, Louisville District Army Corps of Engineers contracting.
“This creates a gap in understanding about veterans and our military institutions. We risk becoming unknowable. One way to bridge that gap is to be a part of each other's lives, share our experiences and burdens , and just spend time together doing good work,” he said.
“Structure is the foundation that I see here,” said Butts. “That’s the biggest takeaway.”
Christina Miller, communications and development associate said the best thing she sees while working at the Home is to see the children go from a state of fear and anxiety to happy and healthy.
“Just like today. You are making a positive impact,” she said, referring to the Soldiers’ visit.