News: Reserve Seabees build community relations
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Garas
GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) – Reserve Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 15, volunteered for a community relations (COMREL) event at the Feed My Sheep program March 21, 2013.
Sailors cleared brush and debris, and removed waste from the charity’s property line in an attempt to prevent drug-use and prostitution in-and-around the shelter and beautify the property.
“Trash, tires, debris, all of this stuff has all been piling up and it’s become a safety hazard,” said Builder 2nd Class Nicholas Holland. “Especially for people who are trying to recover from addiction.”
Holland is one of 11 volunteers from NMCB 15 to come and support the local charity. “We came out here to donate some time and helping hands to help out the community.”
Feed My Sheep is a faith-based program dedicated to providing meals to the homeless and needy of the Gulfport. Since opening its doors 29 years ago, the group has served over 460,000 meals.
Christina Lipke, Office Manager for Feed My Sheep, said that having the sailor’s help to clear out this trash is extremely beneficial to their mission and the community.
“Many of the homeless have problems with alcohol, drugs and prostitution,” said Lipke. “This will help keep them from having a hiding spot to do that sort of activity.”
“She’s wanted to clean this out for the last couple of years, but she just didn’t have the manpower,” said NMCB 15’s Chaplain Lt. Greg Trujillo.
“It’s a safety hazard along with a health issue,” Trujillo added. “We’re cleaning it up to help the community.”
NMCB 15 is a reserve battalion headquartered out of Belton, Miss., and was mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit arrived in Gulfport at the end of November and has been volunteering to help local charities ever since. Volunteers from the battalion have helped to rearrange food warehouses and help sanitize kitchens and distribution points.
Trujillo said that the charity contacted him about three months ago, asking him if the unit could help. Trujillo said he could and he’s brought volunteers with him each time.
“Whenever they come out, it’s wonderful,” said Lipke. “People see these sailors out here and it makes them want to help us too. “
Construction Electrician 3rd Class Gary Chin was among the volunteers. As he pulled a tire from a clump of trees he said, “I’ve done volunteer work for breast cancer, but nothing like this before.”
Chin is volunteering to help for the third time since his unit has mobilized here.
“I feel pretty good and I want to give back to the people,” said Chin.
“I think it’s been great that so many people are willing to volunteer their time off right before we deploy to come and help the community,” said Holland. “It’s definitely a benefit all the way around.”
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