Ohio National Guard News

Warrant Officer Candidate School class
'furnishes' community outreach for its class project

Story and photos by Spc. Elizabeth Williams, 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

An Ohio Army National Guard Warrant Officer Candidate School student saws off excess material while his classmate steadies the wood.

An Ohio Army National Guard Warrant Officer Candidate School student takes out a screw from a desk.

Ohio Army National Guard Warrant Officer Candidate School students work on desks at the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio in Columbus, Ohio. The candidates participated in a community outreach project that not only promoted cohesion among the classmates, but also strengthens the National Guard’s relations with the communities in which its members work and live.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (08/11/17) — Ohio Army National Guard warrant officer candidates volunteered at the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio as part of the class’s community outreach project.

The project aims to teach the candidates leadership skills as well as help the local community, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 James B. Camechis, one of the teaching, advising and counseling (TAC) officers who instruct the course.

“As National Guard Soldiers, after the weekend we go home and take off our uniforms and become part of the community,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important for us to help — because people look at us as leaders in our own communities.”

In previous years, candidates have cleaned military cemeteries, cooked for families at the Ronald McDonald House and installed smoke detectors into local homes. The beneficiary of the current class project, the Furniture Bank, provides and distributes donated furniture to central Ohio families and individuals struggling with poverty and other severe life challenges.

Year after year, candidates are required to research, plan and execute a community outreach project because the skills they learn and the local residents they impact are so important, Camechis said. That’s why the project is, and will continue to be, in the curriculum.
Current warrant officers serve as course TACs, leading warrant officer candidates through the rigorous curriculum that tests if Soldiers have what it takes to become one of the Army’s “Quiet Professionals.”

This year’s candidates transformed desks, which customers have little need for, into night stands, which are more useful for customers. The class split themselves into teams that disassembled the desks, sawed off excess wood from the night stands, sanded and stacked the finished products, and reorganized sections of the warehouse.

There were many moving parts to the project. John J. Vidosh, director of operations for the Furniture Bank, told the candidates what needed accomplished, and from there they organized themselves, he said. This group of volunteers was somewhat unique in that they took initiative instead of needing to be told exactly what to do.

“Soldiers can greatly impact the community because they are trained to get things done efficiently,” Vidosh said. “The work they do is invaluable.”

He estimated the class would be responsible for furnishing 70 to 80 local families’ homes and stressed the great impact these Soldiers’ work will make on families by working to improve these community members’ quality of life.

Not only did the candidates help their local community, they also learned and practiced valuable leadership skills. Students coordinated the project from start to finish, with minimal help from their TAC instructors. It tested their logistical skills and taught them to take initiative.

The project was about the class working together, said Warrant Officer Candidate Morgan Sunderhaus, the class leader for Warrant Officer Class 17-001. It took five months’ worth of planning, with everyone having a role to make sure the project went smoothly, and everyone learning something from it. “It’s a learning experience for us as well as a great thing to do for the community,” she said.
Although the candidates all took away valuable knowledge, the class was primarily concerned with making an impact in their community. “We wanted the community to know we are here to help,” said WOC Andrew Reichelderfer, who served as the class project leader.

Reichelderfer was in charge of most of the logistics of the project, and most of the research. He looked for a project that would be worth the class’s time. He wanted the project to mean something and do something for the community and even spent hours searching for the best one.

“We could have easily picked up some weed eaters and some brooms and cleaned up (somewhere) and called it our community project,” he said. “But we wanted to have the biggest impact we could on the — our — community.”
The National Guard values the community and that was the main goal of the project, he said. To show them that Guard members who go home and are also part of the community, want to help.

Sunderhaus summed up the reason the Ohio Army National Guard is so interested in community outreach.

“They forget the National Guard’s mission,” she said. “It’s not just about being deployed and fighting wars; it’s about helping out at home too, and in this case our backyard.”

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