Living in Service

Living in Service

Love for our Veterans

November 11, 2019

Gregory Dossie

“I went to the University of Florida for a year on scholarship for aeronautical engineering, but I wasn’t ready for school so I joined the Air Force.” 

Greg Dossie is 60, though he claims 21, and was born and raised in Panama City, Florida.

“I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve done lots of things, in the military I was a Diddy Bopper, which means I listened to Morse Code, and I had to type out what was going on.”

His favorite experience in the service was being stationed in Italy and working with Italian radio. After completing his four year commitment Greg pursued other dreams, managing a McDonalds and becoming a medical assistant, “…my heart had always been in the medical field. I wanted to be a child psychiatrist when I got out.”

Greg also lived in California working for MC Hammer in his gospel days. He returned to his family’s property in Panama City when his mother became ill with dementia. The property held four homes before Hurricane Michael, and he has lived next to the home where he was raised ever since. He also became actively involved in civil rights and community activism.

Greg was home for the four and a half hours Michael spent lingering and heavily damaging his community. Out of the four homes on his property only one room and bathroom was left undamaged. He shares his experience, “When the ceilings were falling in my house, and the rain was pouring down in my kitchen, that wasn’t a big deal… The thing that was on my mind was I wonder how bad the beach was damaged… I looked at the roof on this side, the house I grew up in, and it wasn’t that bad… I come on the other side and I see the majority of the roof gone, and the other house leveled… It was a big deal. Then I began to thank God, because a house over and I could’ve not been here.”

Greg’s other properties, including the levels home, after Hurricane Michael

Photos provided by Greg Dossie of his property the day after Hurricane Michael

The experience and loss has been a process, and the trauma isn’t just physical, “The last house, I haven’t been in it, I can only take so much. I have PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and I’m seeing a therapist for it through the VA,” Greg shares openly.

After the storm finished, he didn’t have much time to process the damage. His connections in the community made him a vital resource in response efforts, and he was quickly contacted about supply deliveries. The storm hit on a Wednesday and by Sunday the first supply drive was running.

“So me, doing all that volunteer stuff, helping others because of all the connections I had, in the back of my mind, it’s always, how am I going to pay for this. Getting quotes $30 – 40,000 worth of damage, my PTSD, how am I going to have my tree cut down, which before the storm was $500, after the storm was $2,000…”

With the help of Cathlic Charities and All Hands and Hearts, Greg is now on the road to recovery. In the process he’s made a point to get to know many of the volunteers, including fellow Air Force member Dave.

Dave Garcia Jr.

“I’m David Garcia Jr., U.S. Air Force, Hurlburt Field, Florida. I’m 30 years old.”

Dave has been in the Air Force for almost 11 years, and comes from a family of service. Third generation military, his dad was a diplomat in foreign service, his mom works for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and his brother is capital police.

“Public service is in the blood,” he says, but his love for service doesn’t just come from family tradition. 

“A sense of purpose and sense of accomplishment, being able to be there, and be the guys who are doing… make[ing] sure that the successes are part of a greater being.”

Dave first volunteered with us in Texas, in 2018.

The All Hands community is what brought Dave to project Florida. He says he loves to share knowledge on being a human, being able to share an experience, and then do things that are good for other people without a personal return.

He returns regularly to volunteer on the weekends, and though he wasn’t looking for a personal return, he found the beauty of give and take. 

“Coming back for more, being able to help, being able to get my hands dirty, being able to use the tools the Air Force gave me to apply them to different job sites and maybe a little bit of I learn, and I teach as well.” 

Dave is grateful for the opportunity he’s had working and getting to know the global community. 

“I want to thank All Hands and Hearts for being there, they create the mechanism for people like me, and people from Germany, France, the U.S., or cities wherever, and being able to put good resources to good people, being able to support the communities.”

He is one of the many volunteers that helped hang drywall and rebuild Greg’s home. 

“… we had some good people there helping him out, and being able to push him forward.”

Greg enjoys baked treats from the All Hands and Hearts Florida team on Hurricane Michael’s one year anniversary

Dave is happy to help anyone who needs it and Greg is impressed by all the volunteers that pass through. 

“I always like to ask people where they’re from, what made them decide to get into it,” says Greg … it’s not just national, but international, and finding out that a lot of the volunteers here have also gone to St. Thomas, to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico to volunteer as well.”

Greg has lived through hurricanes his whole life, but after Hurricane Michael, Greg won’t stick around again. “When they say hurricane now, it’s not going to be hurricane. It’s going to be hurry Greg, get out of there!”

As Greg’s home progresses we watch his smile, sense of humor and gratitude grow. 

“The approximate time that my ceilings came down in 2018, they were going back up in 2019, so I thought that was pretty cool. They came down about 1:30 – 2:30, and they were going back up about 1:30 – 2:30 exactly a year later.”

By providing an outlet for those like Dave to come volunteer, and lift those like Greg in a time of trouble, the cycle of giving continues.

Greg with his home’s team October 26, 2019

“Y’all are lifesavers, not just All Hands and Hearts, but all of the organizations that have come, giving of their time when they could be doing so many other things. We definitely appreciate that, and we’re super grateful for it, and thank y’all again,” says Greg.

On November 3rd with the help of Volunteers from the Ironman Foundation, All Hands and Hearts was able to complete an additional scope of work. With a few extra hands, and a few hours, Greg’s home was transformed with orange and yellow paint similar to his bright spirit. When he gets back on his feet, Greg hopes to volunteer with All Hands and Hearts in the Bahamas. Sign up today and help us continue to give back to communities who need it most.