By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 3, 2017) – Nineteen volunteers from Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) visited Miura Shiratori-en, a local facility for people with disabilities, to help clean their landscapes.
Volunteers consisted of both American – active duty military and civilians – and Japanese employees, including command leadership Capt. Garrett Farman, the commanding officer, and Cmdr. David Dwyer, deputy commander.
“As you know, we have a long, friendly relationship with Shiratori-en,” Farman said. “It is a command event; we support Shiratori-en as a whole command. We think it important to keep relations with Japanese society through this event.”
“Community relations activity is very important for the U.S. Navy,” Dwyer said. “Sailors are everywhere contributing to local communities. Sailors on ships do the same thing during their port of calls.”
“Since our residents and short-stay users walk on this ground for exercise and play soccer games, cutting and maintaining grass here prevent them from falling or stumbling,” said Masayuki Hayashi, Shiratori-en’s local support division head. He emphasized that landscape maintenance truly helps the facility’s residents. “Today some children here are working together with SRF people and they really enjoy this.”
SRF-JRMC also maintains and repairs the facility’s lawnmowers. Before the event, volunteers visited Shiratori-en and took the broken lawnmowers to the command, where they repaired them. Electronics Technician 1st Class Jason Smith, the events coordinator, was one of the repairers.
“The mowers are really just in need of some basic upkeep,” Smith said. “Some required replacement parts, but others just needed new oil and spark plugs. After sharpening the blades, they’ll be ready to take on a new season at Shiratori-en!”
In addition to landscaping, SRF-JRMC annually holds a Christmas party for the local facility, providing entertainment as well as cakes, food, soft drinks and presents. The command also puts up a booth at the facility’s anniversary event, Shiratori-sai.
Two Japanese newspaper reporters from Yokosuka city bureau of the Asahi Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun visited the facility for news coverage, highlighting this long-standing contribution to the community.
“I have heard that SRF has a large number of Japanese workers. I think this is partly why SRF has a strong tie with the community,” said Yutaka Mitsuo, Yomiuri Shimbun’s bureau chief. “I once covered the command’s Christmas party here. I would like to visit the event again.”
The event was covered in the two newspaper articles the next day.