Our volunteers mean everything to us so we always love to shine a spotlight on them here. Gardena ReStore volunteer Roxley Pratt has a unique story and heartfelt commitment to service so, in honor of Roxley's last day today, we thought we'd share his story with the world he makes so much better every day.
In 1998, 20 year old Roxley and his family fled Sierra Leone, West Africa for the United States to escape the country's civil war. His family of five - including his mother, father, sister, and brother - had never left Sierra Leone before the war. The family boarded the African Queen, which had a capacity of approximately 170, along with 750 refugees for a four day journey. They encountered one of the worst storms in years and Roxley says it is because of the grace of God that they did not sink or die aboard, and despite the conditions he was glad his family was together for the journey. After spending a mere year in Gambia the family received visas to enter the US, a process which normally takes 3 to 4 years.
The family arrived in Los Angeles in 1999. Roxley came to the United States with a high school degree and an accounting certificate, but decided to pursue his love for the military and service and joined the Marine Corps. He served for six years, spending most of that time in Iraq engaged in active combat, and he became a corporal.
Looking back on this time, Roxley said "you cannot ever be prepared or trained for real war...those experiences change your life forever...whatever you had planned will be a totally different experience, a very different life."
After his tour Roxley joined the reserves and enrolled in college at Western Michigan University, and graduated in 2007 with a BBA in Management and a minor in Finance. He currently has a desire to pursue an acting career and a law degree, but first wants to re-enlist in the Army; He loves being a member of the military.
Roxley came upon hard times in California after college; he was homeless until the U.S. Vets helped him find an affordable rental. While attending a job fair at Paramount Studios, he visited the Habitat booth and decided to join The Mission Continues fellowship program that week. The Mission Continues offered Roxley a Post 911 Veteran fellowship, and he was able to choose a non-profit with which to work.
In January 2012 Roxley chose our Restore here in Gardena. He worked in the ReStore itself until recently, when he began working in the office registering, organizing, and coordinating ReStore volunteers. Roxley says he learned a lot about Habitat for Humanity and even about recycling and reuse.
Today is Roxley's last day with us (for now). He plans on enlisting in the Army, joining the police reserves and he also hopes to take the LSAT and attend law school in the next couple of years along with pursing his acting dream. (Watch the video below and you'll agree he belongs in front of a camera!) Thanks for your service, your dedication and your smile, Roxley! Please come back anytime.
Habitat for Heroes Program Kickoff with The Home Depot Foundation
Preparing for a Royal Visit at the "Hiring Our Heroes" Veterans Job Fair in Los Angeles
Restore in Gardena Provides Drop Off Location for Electronics to be Recycled
Labels: furniture donations, GLA, habitat for humanity, HFH, Mission Continues, non-profit, refugee story, ReStore, Roxley Pratt, Sierra Leone, US Vets, veteran, veteran job fairs, volunteer, Western Michigan University