MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
The sharp sound of circular saws chewing wood planks and nail guns forcing nails into drywall makes for a loud working environment, but it's music to the ears of the homeowner who is checking out the progress of his new house.
It's a house built by the dedication of strangers ... who are now friends.
A group of officers from the Malmstrom Company Grade Officer's Association have dedicated their skills, labor and time to the Great Falls Habitat for Humanity project until the house is complete.
"We've been working on this house since May 2006 and we hope to complete it by the end of October," said Susan McCord, Habitat for Humanity executive director. "We are so thrilled to have people from the base here helping out. The [officers] working at the construction site are donating their labor to keep the housing costs down and it's very much appreciated."
The homeowner, Jeff Beisecker, is a father of five who works as an assistant pastor in the community. He said most of the time he's been helping families out in his day-to-day job, but now other people are coming together to help his family.
"It's all so very humbling to have all these people come to us," Mr. Beisecker said. "We've met so many wonderful people these last months; new friendships were made and it's been great."
Mr. Beisecker said he felt like the whole situation was coming back full-circle for him.
"I was a missile cop at Malmstrom from 1989 to 1993 and I'm very pleased to see the people from the base help out," he said.
One Malmstrom officer said he was inspired and motivated to volunteer his evenings after witnessing previous Habitat for Humanity projects and the generosity of the builders throughout the country.
"My wife did some Habitat for Humanity projects in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and that is why we're here ... to help someone build their home," said 2nd Lt. James Wyatt, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron mechanical engineer. "I felt like making a difference, and you can build houses in the process."
Building a home is something 1st Lt. Kevin Hummert never imagined he would be able to do and is excited about heading up the project.
"It's been really rewarding and educational because I know nothing about construction," said the 341st Operations Group deputy combat crew commander evaluator. "Everyone who is here tonight showed up because they chose to volunteer. We made announcements at the CGOA meetings and any CGO who wants to volunteer can sign up and donate their time."
The Great Falls Area Habitat for Humanity is a locally run non-profit ecumenical Christian housing organization and works to help people in need build and renovate affordable housing.
Ms. McCord said the application process for families starts in late fall and the families are selected based on three criteria.
"The first thing we look at when deciding on a family is the need for adequate housing; second is the family's ability to pay off the mortgage; and lastly is the family's contribution of labor to the home-building process," she said. "The family must contribute 500 hours of sweat equity ... and all the people who volunteer their time, like the people from base, do not count toward the family's total contribution hours."
The Great Falls Area Habitat for Humanity is currently building two houses this summer and starting another project in October.
"We're always looking for people to volunteer and help out," Ms. McCord said. "We're especially looking for people who can donate their time and skills in concrete and carpentry."
For more information about the local Habitat for Humanity, visit www.local.habitat.org/gfhabitat.