The Family Helping Families program solicits volunteers from Hickam Air Force Base to renovate homes that are 40 to 80 years old. Base residents from all walks of life participate in the Family Helping Families program to complete projects that would normally cost $12,500 – $17,000 for a mere $2,500 per home. The use of base volunteers has already saved the government and taxpayers over $1,500,000 since the program's inception in October 1997. Family Helping Families kicked off that year on National Make a Difference Day and 155 homes have been renovated since that time.
With the help of Civil Engineer craftsmen volunteers (plumbers, carpenters, and electricians) who ensure that the work is done in a quality manner, Family Helping Families is able to accomplish quality workmanship in shorter amounts of time. The volunteers work for two days to demolish existing cabinets and reinstall new kitchen cabinets, sinks, garbage disposals, and countertops. During this time, they learn skills involved in renovating kitchens and bathrooms, installing new floor tile, ceiling fans, jalousie windows and pouring concrete pads to extend patios. Family Helping Families solicits base-wide for volunteers and select 10-12 houses to renovate per quarter.
On the most recent Make a Difference Day, the volunteers' goal was to renovate kitchens and bathrooms in 10 homes and replace two playgrounds that had unsafe, deteriorated equipment. One Boy Scout who volunteered to help with this project was working to earn his Eagle badge. The homes were originally built in the 1930's and 1970's and the cabinetry was falling off the hinges. Family Helping Families purchased $2,500 worth of cabinets, vanities, mirrors, lights, sinks, countertops, floor tile, garbage disposals and exhaust hoods for each home. It took two days to accomplish the workmanship in the homes that normally would take five to 12 days to finish. Other volunteers installed new and safe playground equipment for more than 5,000 children that use the facilities daily. Led by Wing Commander Colonel Ann Testa, the crew hammered, poured concrete, laid floor tile, painted and landscaped to build a better area for the children and dramatically improve the community.
The Family Helping Families program has inspired people to come out and volunteer their time to improving the quality of life for others. Volunteers with the program learn skills that they can take with them to continue making a difference in their community and they can take pride in seeing the renovated houses and playgrounds they helped to create bring joy to their neighbors.