By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Don Patton
SINGAPORE – U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) fosters relationships through community service projects (COMSERV) while in Singapore March 13-21.
Community service projects are an important component to the Blue Ridge, Commander 7th Fleet mission of strengthening and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia-Pacific. These cultural exchanges allow the more than 900 crew members including embarked 7th Fleet staff, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 “Golden Falcons” and Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific, to volunteer their liberty time, investing in the communities they visit.
“Part of Blue Ridge’s mission is to facilitate the improvement of relationships throughout the 7th Fleet area of operations,” said Blue Ridge Chaplain, Lt. Junsup Um. “The involvement of our Sailors in COMSERV’s directly reflects a positive outlook on not only Blue Ridge, but on the entire U.S. Navy.”
Sailors from Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet staff have already dedicated over 180 man hours to community service events this patrol and are scheduled to participate in 12 more events over the next few months, stated the Blue Ridge community service coordinator, Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Brian Jewell.
“Community service gives us a chance to help out and show that we genuinely care about the local communities that we visit,” continued Jewell.
The two COMSERV’s in Singapore took place at the Peacehaven Nursing Home, where Sailors got a chance to interact with members of an elderly community, and Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen, where Sailors helped prepare meals for underprivileged and needy Singaporeans.
With the help of Singaporean volunteers, the Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet staff Sailors were able to provide over 1,700 meals at the Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen during the course of their three-hour stay.
“I joined the Navy to make a difference in people’s lives and doing this COMSERV gave me that opportunity,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Daniel Ross.
Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen is a private, non-profit organization that prepares, cooks and distributes meals to children, adults, and elderly Singaporeans in need. It is staffed by only volunteers and food provided through donations.
Peacehaven Nursing Home is run by the Salvation Army, a non-profit organization, providing compassionate, individualized, holistic care to all without discrimination.
“The turnout is always great for these types of events and a lot of Sailors have really gotten involved,” said Jewell. “The Sailors on board are so eager to sign up and help, that the signup sheet is usually full the same day.”
“I really enjoyed the time I spent there helping out,” said Ross. “I’m definitely going to sign up to participate in another event when I get the chance.”