By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Peter Burghart
TOKYO, Japan – Sailors and organizations from Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, Command Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) , Command Fleet Activities Okinawa and the Yokohama Negishi Detachment were recognized for their work in the local community during the 65th Annual Nippon Zenkokai Association Awards ceremony held in the Sanshu-den Hall of the Meji Shrine in Tokyo.
The Zenkokai award was founded in 1951 to honor individuals and organizations whose gallant or benevolent work is remarkably beneficial to their neighbors or the general public. The award was opened to foreigners who help out in the Japanese community in 1955.
“There are many organizations that do work out in town, and it’s nice to see …that this is an award for everyone who gives back to the community”, said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Anthonlee Clark, who represented CFAY’s security department at the ceremony.
This year’s Navy Zenkokai award winners included eight individuals and six organizations. The Nippon Zenkokai Association is an independent, non-profit organization overseen by the Japanese government. The association encourages good personal conduct as well as warm, mutual relationships among members of society, according to the association’s website.
“This is basically a big victory for us, because we are over here in Japan helping out and getting to know our community more. It feels like a part of home,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class, Monique Vera, Vera is a culinary specialist representing CFAY’s chapter of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD).
The individual and group winners came not only from the U.S. Navy, but members of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa and the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron stationed at Yokota Air Base.
Some of what the different winners did to help their local community ranged from CSADD’s feeding of the homeless and assisting local orphanages, to CFAY security’s sponsoring of the Kofuen Orphange in Yokohama including celebrations for Halloween and Christmas.
“It was great to see not only Japanese winners but South Korea was represented, the U.S., Japan was represented and China too,” said Clark.
The ceremony not only included giving out the awards, but a performance by a local school band, and a magic show, but in the end the day was about honoring those who give their free time to help the local community.