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    Fun Boss Filling The Fun Tanks



    Story by Seaman Mohamed Labanieh 

    USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

    The love of fun drove Kathleen Varner to become the “Fun Boss” aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
    “I wanted to be on Abraham Lincoln to make the Sailors lives fun,” said Varner. “While on deployment, I have an opportunity to create moral boosting events for a larger number of Sailors than I would in the yards. Making a difference in the Sailors’ lives makes me proud. Getting the full Navy experience and expanding my connections overseas while visiting various ports around the world is also a huge plus. So far Duqm has been doing wonders on me.”
    While growing up in Galesburg, Ill., Varner’s mother was a recreation professional who ran an aquatic center, along with all the city’s recreation events for the Park District. Since Varner was a child, she knew she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and work in recreation. This led her to study leisure youth and human services at the University of Northern Iowa.
    After college, Varner ran the family programs for tourists at a resort in Virginia and South Carolina for two years. Wanting to be part of a community greater than herself, she decided to join the military recreation field by working for Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR).
    “Recreation is something I’ve been following my whole life,” said Varner. “When I joined, I didn’t realize how many options I had. This opened up many doors and I’m glad I applied to work for MWR.”
    Varner’s first assignment with MWR was the liberty program manager for Naval Submarine Base King’s Bay. This helped prepare Varner for her role on Abraham Lincoln where she constantly plans and puts together events to build moral and help Sailors take their mind off their busy work days.
    “I greatly appreciate MWR’s efforts,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Aayush Narang. “The events they put together while we’re underway and the tours they plan when we’re in port make this deployment entertaining.”
    Varner said she encourages Sailors to pitch their ideas to her at the MWR office. Whether it’s an event to plan, games to purchase for MWR, movie night ideas or anything else it may be, Sailor involvement helps her create a wider range of events and keep a plethora of games in stock.
    “The most rewarding part of my job is having a part in the Sailors’ leisure life outside of work,” said Varner. “Putting together events aboard and taking Sailors outside the work mentality draws a smile on my face, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.”
    Varner said her job also contributes to her morale. When she hosts tournaments and game night for games she’s never played, Sailors teach her how to play and involve her in the fun.
    “Sailors taught me how to play chess and black jack on this deployment,” said Varner. “These small, yet touching interactions with Sailors constantly remind me of how blessed I am to have this job. It’s nice to make long lasting friendships on the ship.”
    The next major event MWR is planning is the holiday party. According to Varner, there will be finger food, prizes, raffles, games, movies playing on the big screen and many other ideas that are still being coordinated with Women At Sea.
    “It’s extremely challenging to be away from family and friends during the entire holiday season,” said Varner. “But this is what I signed up for so I use that challenge as fuel to put together fun and exciting events for the Sailors in hopes of making them feel at home during the holidays. It’s a free spirit event for the crew.”
    Varner said Abraham Lincoln’s homeport shift to San Diego will open up a lot of fun MWR activities that Sailors can participate in.
    “I’m eager to take Sailors to sports games, landmarks, and outdoor activities such as hiking, surfing or anything else Sailors want to do,” said Varner. “I’ve always wanted to live in California, and being able to enjoy it with Sailors excites me even more.”
    According to Varner, Abraham Lincoln’s MWR is funded through the profits of the Lincoln Mall, vending machines, and Jittery Abe’s coffee shop. With those profits, MWR creates events, subsidizes tours, and purchases equipment, games, movies, video games and other supplies. Varner added that MWR’s budget must be approved by Abraham Lincoln’s supply officer and commanding officer prior to the money being spent.
    Varner describes her 1.5 years as Fun Boss aboard Abraham Lincoln as phenomenal. She said this opportunity has helped her grow to understand the military life better than when she was assigned to a shore base.
    “Experiencing life aboard a ship and learning about a Sailor’s way of life in person has made me better-rounded in my career and gave me an even greater appreciation for the Navy,” said Varner. “Having gained that experience, I now try to use what I’ve learned to come up with different ways I can boost moral aboard the ship and create a positive difference in Sailor’s lives. It has been an unforgettable journey.”



    Date Taken: 12.19.2019
    Date Posted: 12.31.2019 12:39
    Story ID: 357839
    Location: US

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