Since 1936 the Winter Haven armory has been a home to the Florida Army National Guard. Standing on a corner of two busy downtown streets, the stately building is a visible part of the central Florida community.

So when a volunteer from a local church offered to help beautify the armory’s exterior, Sgt. 1st Class Casey Ducharme of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment, took her up on the offer. The concrete barriers in front of the building were replaced with a decorative fence, and a flower bed – complete with rocks, evergreens, rosebushes and seasonal plants – was placed into the landscaping.

Ducharme said this cooperation with the local community shows how important the appearance of his National Guard facility is to Winter Haven.

“We are very visible, being on a main street,” said Ducharme. “Just taking care of the front of a building shows pride in the organization…People stop at this light all the time and they sit and stare at this armory.”

Ducharme, like many Florida National Guard members, understand that these facilities need continual upkeep to remain functional and relevant in our communities.

“You have to be good stewards of taxpayer money,” he said.