Armed with garden tools and protective gear, NOVEC volunteers headed to Serve Our Willing Warriors’ Bull Run retreat in Haymarket on Oct. 3. The team, organized by NOVEC HELPS, helped prepare the grounds before SOWW cut a ribbon to open a second house on their property later that month.
With just over 30 volunteers, they were able to transform the area, clearing about 21,000 square feet of brush and weeds on more than an acre of land around the house. “We so appreciated all your efforts in helping us prepare for the new house, which will enable us to serve twice the number of families that we are currently serving,” said Heidi Tamke, director of volunteer services for the organization. “With the heavy rains, the weeds were overwhelming. The NOVEC workers came in and knocked it out. Their dedication was incredible.”
Pamela Rochon, a NOVEC employee and organizer for the event, said, “I was surprised when I showed up for the second shift at 10 o’clock how much had been done already. The early crew worked so fast!”
A New Home for Serving Willing Warriors
Serve Our Willing Warriors began serving recovering military members undergoing treatment in 2012, but it wasn’t until a home was purchased on 37 acres of land that it was able to become a dedicated retreat facility. On July 4, 2015, the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run opened as a home-away-from-home for service members and their families. The retreat provided free educational and therapeutic activities, as well as a break from the hospital environment.
“People from all areas of NOVEC — from vice presidents to customer service representatives — pitched in to help with the landscaping,” said Ashley Arnold, NOVEC community relations representative and one of the organizers. “It was a tough job on a hot day, but everyone kept a positive attitude. Every volunteer worked hard, side-by-side. We accomplished a lot in the two shifts we worked.”
After serving more than 100 military service members and their families, the new home on the property will allow the group to serve more families in the area.