Making a house a home

Every once in a while, the universe works to bring the right people to the right place at the right time.

This past May, US Navy Lieutenant (O3) Joanna West the noticed an advertisement on her command’s electronic bulletin board from the SOUTHCOM chapter of the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club. The GKMMC was requesting furniture donations for previously homeless veterans and their families who were being placed in new housing.

Intrigued by the program’s details, Joanna contacted the club leader, Brad Schwartz, to inquire about other ways she might be able to help their cause. Brad introduced Joanna to Rolando.

Rolando served in the United States Marine Corps until 2004 and received an honorable discharge when he left the service. Earlier this year, he was accepted into a housing program through the Veterans Administration, which provides housing for veterans in need.

Rolando, his wife, and his baby girl Mirabella had recently been placed in an apartment and were in need of assistance with furnishings and general household items. As Rolando’s was one of the few families with young children currently being assisted through the GKMMC program, Brad felt this was a perfect opportunity for Joanna to offer some additional support.

Joanna first became acquainted with Random Acts through our Hope to Haiti Project. (Joanna has successfully fundraised and been a volunteer on our Hope to Haiti trips for three consecutive years!) When she had a plan in place for helping Rolando and his family, Joanna applied for funding through Random Act’s Act Proposal process, and we here at Random Acts heartily approved!

Once the funding approval was in place, Joanna and her friend Amber arranged to meet with Rolando and his wife, to discuss what items they might need to make their move go more smoothly. Rolando had no idea that Joanna was a Random Acts volunteer; he assumed she was simply helping Brad update his records in order to keep the furniture donation process efficient.

As good deeds have a way of doing, things snowballed from there. With the funding, Joanna purchased Mirabella a new crib, mattress, and stroller, and new curtains and kitchen items for the apartment. One of Joanna’s friends was so inspired by the story that she donated her daughter’s gently used toys and clothing for Mirabella.

On the day Joanna and Amber delivered all of the items they had gathered, Rolando and baby Mirabella were home to receive them. I would explain in detail what happened next, but that would spoil the video!

And as for Joanna, she recently told us, “I love that sometimes people will randomly jump out and offer their assistance when you are doing things like this. It makes the impact so much larger, and makes everyone involved feel good to have a chance to be part of something so positive.”

Random Acts is so proud to have had a chance to work with Joanna on this project. She is a selfless example of the power of paying kindness forward. Although she spends her Saturdays tutoring at the local women’s shelter, this act of kindness has spurred her to look for further ways she can help her military family.

“This project has made me more interested in looking at more veteran focused organizations I could also get involved with,” she said. “One of the greatest things about the military is the steadfast support we offer to each other. There isn’t really an equivalent in the civilian world, and being part of this has inspired me to look into how else I can help my sisters and brothers who are struggling in the world.”

Joanna, we commend you and thank you for being such a fabulous supporter of Random Acts and a wonderful example of altruism in your community.

And to Rolando, Random Acts wishes you and your family many happy years in your new home.

If you’d like to apply for funding for your own random act, visit our Performing Random Acts of Kindness page for all the details. 

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