Story by Cpl Sabrina Candiaflores on 08/19/2019MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (Aug. 15, 2019) "The SMP volunteers are here and the job WILL get done," stated Sgt. Christian Huesca, an aviation radar technician assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 1 and the 2019 Station Volunteer of the Year.
Every week, the Marines and Sailors of MCAS Yuma participate in various volunteer events through the Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) and the Single Marine Program (SMP). The service members have made a positive impact on the community through these events but specifically, the Crossroads Mission.
"I love seeing the service members come in to volunteer, because I have absolute respect for anyone who chooses to serve in any branch of our military," explained Donovan Greg Colver, the house manager at Crossroads Mission. "We know when the Marines and Sailors are here, they're on it."
Crossroads Mission is a faith-based organization dedicated to helping individuals overcome diversity. The mission has many different programs such as the Detox Center which is an inpatient, 10-day program that helps people detox from substances such as alcohol and drugs, and the "New Life Program" which is a four-month inpatient program where clients attend substance abuse classes, seek counseling, and attend peer support groups. The mission also offers the "New Way Program," which lasts six months and gives clients access to the same classes, counseling, and support groups but also allows them to find employment outside of the mission. All of the clients also attend devotion services every morning and evening. The mission is also a homeless shelter.
As volunteers, service members assist specifically in the kitchen by serving and preparing meals, grilling meat, cleaning the dining and kitchen areas, washing dishes, and interacting with the clients.
"We have (offer services to) a (wide) variety of individuals and they (all of them) can see that the service members are actually doing what they can to better their community," explained Colver.
Not only have the service members made an impact on the clients but they have also made an impact on the staff as well.
"They really stand out as volunteers because they never complain or disrespect anyone; they are very well-disciplined." Stated Edna Chavez, the kitchen supervisor. "They are willing to do whatever's necessary to get the job done and I appreciate that."
The Crossroads Mission staff also believe it's important to have service members volunteer because it allows the community to put a face to the base and shines positive light on the air station and the Marine Corps as a whole.
"It lets us get to know the individuals who actually go out there and fight for our freedom," explained Alex Garcia, a member of the kitchen staff. "Instead of just knowing of them, we get to know them."
Huesca, a Phoenix, Arizona native, believes that the service members that volunteer aren't just benefitting Crossroads Mission but they're benefitting themselves as well.
"Crossroads Mission has helped me develop more selflessness and I believe that's an important trait for all service members to have, especially to be combat ready," said Huesca, as he explained how most Medal of Honor recipients demonstrate the ultimate form of selflessness.
The Crossroads Mission client's and staff have a great appreciation for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma's volunteers, and the service members enjoy helping the community of Yuma. Here's to many more years volunteering at Crossroads Mission!