DLA employee team-building project serves community

By Chris Erbe

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Employees of the Defense Logistics Agency Disposal Policy and Compliance Division volunteered their time and organizational skills May 10 to help a local Virginia nonprofit — while fostering teamwork among their own group.

The 13 DLA personnel cleaned and organized a 1,500 square-foot storage shed belonging to the Lorton Community Action Center, housing donated items to be sold in the “Lorton’s Attic” thrift shop.

The division is part of DLA Logistics Operations at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

“The point is to get the team together and develop communication as well as organizational skills,” said Courtney Gutteridge, property disposal specialist and organizer of the event. “And the part that I enjoy is helping the local community. The LCAC helps people right in the back yard of the DLA Headquarters, so I think that is very awesome.”

The Lorton Community Action Center is a non-profit organization that provides low-income individuals, seniors and families access to basic necessities as well as self-sufficiency programs. Services offered by the LCAC include adult life-skill classes, after school programs, emergency financial assistance, food, nutrition classes, clothing and furniture, English language classes, legal assistance and more.

Thrift store manager Melissa Deutsch addressed the group before they began working on the project.

“The LCAC is the most amazing organization in that, if you donate something to the store and it gets sold, all of that money goes right back to help the community,” she said “The organization feeds 260 families a week and it’s all volunteer. It’s very humbling to see our volunteers donating so many hours, and now you are part of that family — thank you.”

The team got to work by taking inventory, sorting, cleaning and organizing the hundreds of items in the shed, which included clothing, furniture and household goods.

“A lot of what DLA employees do in the field is similar to what we’re doing here today,” Gutteridge said. “They take inventory, they organize and they make sure everything is in a logical area so that it’s easy to get to.”

Within three hours of starting the project, the group transformed the shed, which was in a state of disarray, into a clean and systematic storage facility.

“It’s just beautiful,” Deutsch said. “They were so organized and jovial and showed great camaraderie. They were very thoughtful to give up their time for this.”

“I thought this was a good project,” said Reginald Burks, deputy chief for Disposal Policy. “The skills that we have developed by working with DLA are directly transferrable to the community, and we need to give back and help our community.”

Dorothy Russell, supply system analyst in Disposal Policy, added that she thought the project was an excellent idea. “I always love giving back like this because it’s a way we show how much we care about what goes on in our community,” she said.

After completing the project, the group learned more about the LCAC by touring their headquarters and food bank a few miles away.