Dhimiter Selenica loves to fix things. But more importantly, he loves figuring how to work on things he has no prior experience with.
When Fort Belvoir’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation needed to send someone to school to learn how to repair Recreational Vehicles, Selenica was the obvious choice.
“He’s capable of doing everything and anything,” said Outdoor Recreation Director Romel Voellm. “He’s a fast learner. If he does not know something, he will find the answer.”
Selenica is the facility maintenance superintendent for Fort Belvoir’s Outdoor Recreation’s Travel Camp and RV’s. He has worked for MWR since October of 2009, two months after he came to the United States from Greece. At the time, the Albanian native did not speak any English.
It was a scary moment for Selenica and his family, as they left behind familiar surroundings, but Selenica persevered. He hoped to someday come to the United States, but never seriously considered the possibility until one day when someone mentioned the Visa lottery to Selenica’s wife Ettali.
Selenica applied and then waited to hear back. Ettali called him one day and said a thick envelope arrived in the mail from the United States. Selenica took that as a good sign. He was right.
“I’m the winner,” Selenica recalls thinking.
Selenica chose to come to Northern Virginia because he had a cousin in Centreville.
Always good with his hands, Selenica found work initially at Walter Reed Hospital. When the hospital moved locations, one of his former supervisors, who was then at Fort Belvoir, recommended he apply for a job on base.
Fort Belvoir hired him, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to share his gifts with others.
“I’m a handyman,” Selenica said. “I know many things. I like to build things for customers. I like to help people.”
Selenica learned English by attending classes at Herndon High School in Fairfax County. It was a challenge, something he says was the hardest thing to do during the transition. But he assured Ettali things would work out.
“She wondered how we would survive,” Selenica said. “I told her to calm down. If we work hard, we’d be OK.”
Speaking English has made Selenica’s life easier, especially on the job.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Selenica said. “I can answer questions. It’s the first time I’ve used a computer. It was very hard, but we are strong. We never give up.”
More than anything, Selenica and his wife came to the United States to give their son and daughter a better life. They accomplished their mission. Both their children are now college graduates with good jobs.
“We did this for their future,” Selenica said.