By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 17, 2016) – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) volunteers visited Miura Shiratori-en, a local residential facility for individuals with disabilities, to assist with seasonal landscaping and yardwork. Volunteers included the command’s Sailors, Japanese and U.S. civilian employees, contractors and their family members.
For more than 50 years, SRF-JRMC volunteers have regularly contributed and supported this facility’s landscaping and yardwork to ensure its residents and outpatients have a place to exercise, walk and play.
“Here, Japan is hosting us, so I feel good giving back,” said Project Superintendent Shaun Dennis, from the command’s Waterfront Operations department. “We are not here just to protect [the Japanese people] militarily, but [also] we work here, sharing the community, and give back what we can.”
“Volunteering feels good to me,” said Engineering Technician Kunihiko Morikawa, from the command’s Lifting and Handling department. “Previously, I was a member of [the] volunteering team for the base’s open day. This is my first time here [at Shiratori-en].”
The volunteer team also consisted of two Shiratori-en staffers, four children who lived there, and a university student learning how to care for children with disabilities.
“I didn’t know that American military people do things like this,” said Kanatsu Suzuki, who studies childcare at Den-En Chofu University’s Department of Child Education and Child Development. At Shiratori-en, she participated in a two-week-long hands-on training. During the event, she mowed and carried grass with the children volunteers.
“These children don’t have many chances to go outside and play,” she said. “This is a good opportunity. The children look like they are also enjoying working with the people.”
“During a hot day like today, I see SRF’s personnel working hard mowing, cutting and pruning,” said Nobutaka Fukuda, who works at Shiratori-en’s children division. “They grab every chance to volunteer here. Our people are also definitely enjoying working with [them]!”
SRF-JRMC’s last visit and volunteer service at Shiratori-en was in June 2016, where they had also beautified the facility’s garden and landscape.
“Thank you, as always, for the outstanding work,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Smith, who organized the command’s volunteer team for the day, to all the present volunteers. “We will be trying to have another event soon, so spread the word! Tell a friend! Tell everyone!”
In Oct. 8, 2016, SRF-JRMC members attended the facility’s annual “Open Day” event, which celebrates the anniversary of Shiratori-en’s establishment. There, the command sells merchandise and serves American food, like hotdogs, at the event. Other local community groups present at the event also sell food and crafts and hold music exhibitions and concerts. SRF-generated proceeds go back to Shiratori-en in supporting their annual Holiday party event in December for their residents.