SHREVEPORT, La. (NNS) -- Sailors from Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) volunteered at the Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana's surplus store and headquarters, May 1.
The Fuller Center, founded shortly after Hurricane Katrina, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality housing for working families living below the poverty line and improving low-income communities.
"We exist for one purpose only, and that's to give individuals a hand up, not a handout," said Lee A. Jeter Sr., executive director of the Fuller Center and a retired Marine. "We help working families who aren't really able to afford a decent place to live."
With a very small full-time staff, the center is dependent on the support of volunteers to sustain their operations.
"We depend on volunteers 100 percent," said Jeter. "We don't exist without volunteers. They're the heart and soul of our organization. We cannot build houses, we can't even run the surplus store without volunteers."
For Jeter, who became an ordained minister after retiring as a Marine gunnery sergeant, the Fuller Center is a true labor of love and the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Being able to come back to Louisiana when I retired and help these low-income communities like the one I was raised in is a tremendous effort for me," said Jeter. "It let's people know they have an opportunity to succeed, that if they're willing to take a step, other people are willing to help them."
Electronics Technician 1st Class Joshua Alewine sees volunteering as a way to show people that there is always a chance to change your life for the better.
"It's good to show people that even if you've had a rough time growing up, you can still make something of yourself," said Alewine. "You can still get out and do great things. It feels good getting out there and showing people that there's something different, that they have options."
Volunteerism is at the very heart and soul of the military, according to Jeter.
"It shows me that the military is still holding on to its basic core values," said Jeter. "Every service member, regardless of their branch of service, becomes a part of the community in which they live. They serve these communities each and every day. They're not just serving their country, going out protecting the Constitution of the United States against enemies both foreign and domestic they're out there being a part of the community."
Volunteering isn't just about helping others, but showing those in the community what the Navy is all about for Alewine.
"Being in the Navy, we're really diverse in what we do," said Alewine. "It shows that we can all get together and accomplish any task placed in front of us. We can work together and overcome whatever is necessary to get the job done."
Navy Weeks focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city for a weeklong series of engagements designed to bring America's Navy closer to the people it protects, in cities that don't have a large naval presence.