By Keiichi Adachi, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs Office
More than 20 volunteer members, including family members of U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) recently visited the Miura Shiratori-en, a home for mentally and physically challenged adults and children administered by the Seiwakai Social Welfare Foundation, May 31, 2014.
Every year SRF-JRMC offers Shiratori-en their assistance in mowing lawns, cutting the shrubs, and cleaning up the area. Because Shiratori-en has large yards and the number of the personnel working there are limited, they are not able to take care of all the yard work themselves.
Electronics Technician 1st Class James Evans of SRF-JRMC Combat Systems Department is the coordinator for Shiratori-en visits. He and other volunteers planned to visit Shiratori-en for a total of five times last year, but foul weather cancelled some of the planned activities.
“Last year we visited Shiratori-en for just three cleanup and beautification events. We are sorry for all the cancellations. We cannot control weather conditions,” said Evans.
SRF-JRMC has a long volunteer history with Shiratori-en, beginning 51 years ago in 1963. A Senior Chief Petty Officer and three Japanese employees from the Carpenter Shop visited Shiratori-en and came up with the idea of helping to support the facility.
Nagasawa Gakuen, as Shiratori-en was previously called, was a private facility, but the Kanagawa Prefectural Government took over the facility at the start of the 1980’s.
With this change, the members of SRF-JRMC could not conduct volunteer activities for the facilities themselves. The volunteer activities changed to mowing the lawn, cutting shrubs and weeds, and sweeping up fallen leaves in the yards and around the facilities.
Shigeyuki Asai, Director of Local Area Support Division at Shiratori-en, mentioned that he thanked the many volunteers from SRF-JRMC, although he could not be there when SRF-JRMC members made their most recent visit to Shiratori-en.
“A member of our facility joined the cleanup and he told me that he had a good time. The quick and powerful cleanup in a short time surprised him a lot. The male volunteers are especially big and strong, their bodies are all muscles,” said Asai.
Electronics Technician 1st Class Paul Zetterholm arrived at SRF-JRMC last September, but due to his scheduling conflicts he was only able to participate in the Christmas party that SRF-JRMC holds for the facility every year. He plans on going to every event in the future.
“The main benefit from the volunteer activity is that we’re supporting a long important tradition our senior volunteers at SRF-JRMC have built. It sometimes just feels good to do manual labor and know that you’re helping someone out through your actions,” said Zetterholm.
According to Navy Diver 1st Class Albert Alejo, much of the conversation by the volunteers during the cleanup activity seemed to be centered on what they were doing and how to do it better. He believes everyone had a great time that day. The weather was nice and the volunteers enjoyed their time under the sun, trying to make the grounds a little bit cleaner.
“I will plan to go as much as I can, depending on my work schedule. I love giving back to the community. The way I see it; it is only 4-5 hours of my life, why not give back to the community for a good cause? It is a good opportunity to build great camaraderie with command personnel,” said Alejo.