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San Juan National Guard reservist called for duty, hopes locals will help cover work with Homes project

David Tobon works on a home at Park Plaza, the new Homes for Islanders neighborhood near the library. Tobon, a  National Guard reservist,  has been called to active duty. - Journal photo / James Krall
David Tobon works on a home at Park Plaza, the new Homes for Islanders neighborhood near the library. Tobon, a National Guard reservist, has been called to active duty.
— image credit: Journal photo / James Krall

“Help me help you” has been David Tobon’s motto in all that he’s done — from working four full days a week on Homes for Islanders’ Rocky Bay neighborhood, to the long weeks he’s put in on Park Plaza across the street from the public library.

“I help somebody right now and hopefully they will help me later,” he said.

Tobon has been working 35 hours per week since April at Park Plaza, helping his neighbors build their homes as he works on his own. Now, he’s received some news that will change more than just his work week.

“We applied for this project last April a year ago, and we started working on this project in April this year ... And a few weeks down the road, I find out we’re leaving.”

Tobon is a member of the National Guard. He found out just a few weeks ago that he’s headed overseas.

“The rumors are we’re going to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,” Tobon said. Tobon will be working as an engineer in the 81st Engineering Brigade out of Bellingham.

The work he’s been doing with Homes for Islanders isn’t the only thing that Tobon is going to be missing out on.

At the beginning of the year, he and his wife, Bianca, had their first child, David Tobon Jr.

Tobon and his wife have lived on the island five years. Luckily, when they are at work, family friends have helped out with David Jr.

“We have a date when we’re leaving, not when we’re coming back,” Tobon said. “We will know two to three days before we are coming back and that’s for security purposes. The less people know when we’re coming back, the more secure we are, the safer we are. “

But Tobon doesn’t want to think about when he’s leaving or what he’ll be missing.

“I’m going to spend the time with my family and build the house, and hopefully I’ll have the job when I get back.”

Tobon works for Richard Lawson Construction as a truck driver, but is taking time off before his deployment to spend time with the family and keep busy with Homes for Islanders.

Leaving in July, Tobon will be busy serving his country, but all of his hours on the Homes for Islanders project will need to be made up.

“I’m doing something for my country. That means I choose to be in the Army and hopefully people will help,” he said. “Sometimes, we have people walking by and they know what the project is about and they just come over here and say, ‘Let me sign in!’ ”

Tobon is confident other islanders will help.

“I don’t think their view is going to be about my case, at the same time, this is like the family,” he said. “If the people are going to help me, they’re not only helping me, they’re helping everybody else.”

— To learn how you can help at Park Plaza, call Homes for Islanders, 370-5944.

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