By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Yokosuka’s Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) recently hosted a Christmas party at Miura Shiratori-en, an institution for the mentally and physically challenged, and shared the spirit of Christmas with its residents and outpatients.
With food, cake, presents and music, SRF-JRMC has continued to contribute to this facility for more than 50 years.
“This is the 53rd time that the employees of U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center have celebrated Christmas time with you, the residents and staff of Miura Shiratori-en,” said SRF-JRMC Commanding Officer Capt. Garrett Farman in his opening remarks. “I know I speak for all of SRF when I say I always look forward to this joyful annual event, and we wish you good health, happiness and peace now and in the coming year. Merry Christmas, and Yoi otoshi wo omukae Kudasai.”
The party is a joint effort of the SRF-JRMC Friendly Society of Japanese Master Labor Contract (MLC) employees and volunteers from the U.S. military and civilian personnel at SRF-JRMC.
“We hope to continue and strengthen our knots and keep a friendly relationship forever,” said Shiratori-en director Yoshiaki Kato. “We would really like to pay respect and appreciation for Capt. Farman, SRF Friendly Society President Oosaki, the SRF Friendly Society members and all the people of SRF. Thank you very much.”
SRF-JRMC’s “Swing Star” music band played Christmas songs during the event while Shiratori-en children residents danced hand-in-hand with SRF volunteers.
“In December every year,” said President of Shiratori-en Family Association Kenji Suzuki “the residents here always look forward to delicious cake and refreshments as well as presents that bring joy. SRF volunteers have played an important role in the landscape maintenance of our facility and annual Shiratori Festival in October. They are the embodiment of ‘how ideal volunteers should be.’ I hope the bond between Japan and the United States becomes much stronger in the future as ours.”
Sonny Del Toro, a Project Superintendent and new SRF-JRMC volunteer, said, “This is a wonderful event. I’m not yet familiar with the culture of Japan, but this is a good time to learn about the people and our contribution to the community. I really enjoy this, seeing the U.S. Navy personnel together with Japanese community members and appreciating each other’s company.”
Mamiko Hashimoto, a Shiratori-en staffer, also was happy with the party. “I have been working here for five years, and we look forward to this event every year. Santa Claus looks very real, too. They are contributing to improve our quality of life.”
Yui Ito, an SRF-JRMC Training Instructor, volunteered to wear an animal costume and described the event as a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the local society. Five SRF-JRMC volunteers dressed in animal costumes and amused both children and elderly residents alike.
Shiratori-en was established as Nagasawa Gakuen, a public institution for the mentally and physically challenged in 1963. Through its history, one organization after another administered the institution due to its legal and financial status, and now Social Welfare Organization Seiwakai is responsible under the Designated Administrator System. True to its tradition, SRF-JRMC, however, has unwaveringly continued its support to the facility, residents, outpatients, their families, staff members and the community. SRF’s respect and volunteerism to the local society was highlighted in this annual event with cheers and laughter among the party attendees.