Meet Julio - Veteran & Volunteer
by Summer Bessent,
Operations & Volunteer Coordinator
Here at Habitat for Humanity of Horry County, our volunteers are vital to our mission. Without them, we would not be able to do the work that we do. It is through their kindness, generosity, and helping hands that we can continue changing the lives of families right here in our own community by providing them with safe, decent, and affordable housing.
For Veterans Day this year, there is one volunteer that we would like to recognize. His name is Julio Alvarado and he has been a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Horry County since November of 2021. This month marks a whole year that he has been a part of our team! In the one year that he has been with us, Julio has completed over 400 volunteer hours!
During an interview with Julio, we learned about his time in the service and gained a better understanding of his role and what it means to him to be a Veteran.
Julio went into the Navy at the age of 18. While Julio was in the Navy, he served as an Aviation Electronics Technician. It was his love for electronics that really led him to that. He knew that by going into the service, he would gain the knowledge and hands on training that he so desired. Julio spent time stationed overseas in Rota, Spain and stated that he really loved it there. “It’s a beautiful country,” he said.
When asked what it meant/means to serve your country, he said, “It’s something you learn about once you’re in the service for a while. As a young adult, you don’t know much.” He went on to speak about his experience regarding developing an understanding of what it means to serve. He stated, “Once you start meeting people who have been in for several years, senior individuals, seeing their respect for the flag, and attending ceremonies, it really starts to hit home. Those ceremonies are where you start to really appreciate the background, the history, and the importance of it all.”
One thing that had really stood out as a memorable moment for him during his time in the Navy was when Julio received a letter from an admiral, thanking him for his work. The rank of an admiral is the highest rank normally achieved in the United States Navy. He stated, “It was a really cool thing.” Receiving praise from such a high ranked official showed him that his experience and extensive training was all paying off.
When Veterans Day came up in the interview, Julio showed nothing less than deep appreciation for the people who served alongside him, as well as all other Veterans, and the relationships that he made along the way. He stated that Veterans Day is a time for reflection, a time for him to look back at the friendships he made and the things that happened. Veteran’s Day is a day that Julio always looks forward to. It’s a time for him and his fellow servicemen to get together and enjoy each other’s company. He said, “I still go to a squadron reunion once a year.” 40 years later, the friends that he made while in the service have grown into a tight nit family. He noted that he and his fellow servicemen have seen each other go on to get married and have children, see those children get married, and celebrate other big life events.
When asked what advice he would give to others who are considering serving in the United States Military, his first response was, with enthusiasm, “Definitely do it.” If you’re young and not quite sure what you want to do, he said the service is something that should be investigated. He stated, “Every branch has something different to offer. You name it, it’s there.” He followed up with, “You get a great education at a low cost, and you get great hands on experience, which is invaluable these days.”
To wrap up the interview, we spoke a bit more about Julio’s time as a Habitat volunteer. He started out by helping our staff load and unload donations and purchases in the warehouse. Not long after he started, he found himself working in our electronics section. His tasks include testing donated electronics, pricing them, and getting them out onto the sales floor. Julio said that it was another core volunteer that brought him to that area.
During one shift, Julio had to bring a donation to the electronics area, and he was really interested in everything there. His excitement and knowledge gained the attention of one of our core volunteers who was working in that space, and that volunteer said, “I could really use your help.” From that day on, Julio had found his place in our organization.
Prior to volunteering with our affiliate, Julio was not very familiar with our mission and our work in the community, but he was very interested in learning. One year later, he proudly advocates on our behalf to his friends and family. During the interview, he noted that some people have made comments such as, “They just give houses away.” That’s when he jumps in and says, “That’s not right. The families do 300 hours of volunteer time, they go through financial literacy classes, and they are truly vetted so that they know that this [homeownership] is a big undertaking. They walk them through the process of what it’s going to be and what it’s going to take. They were all very surprised.”
As the interview was coming to an end, Julio shared that during his time volunteering with us that he has been very fortunate throughout his journey, and that he has had a lot of fun. He followed up with a short and sincere statement, “I’ve been lucky.” Not only has he made an impact on our organization, our community, and the families that we serve, but we too have made an impact on him.
Habitat for Humanity of Horry County is so incredibly grateful to have Julio on our team as a core volunteer. We cannot thank him enough for his service to our country in the United States Navy, as well as his service to our community.