Marines recognized for volunteer efforts
When stationed abroad, it is important to be a contributing member of the local community. Volunteering can help service members open doors to new friendships during their time overseas and bring about strong, lasting friendships.
Due to their volunteer efforts and involvement with the Reimei No Sato Handicap Facility, Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, found themselves invited to the facility’s first spring festival April 20 in Ishikawa.
“In previous years, the facility hosted a plum blossom festival for residents instead of a spring festival,” said Maeshiro Tokushichi, the manager of the facility. “There were many plum trees that surrounded the facility, but a typhoon last year damaged these trees and the flowers did not bloom.”
During the festival, the facility’s staff acknowledged community relations projects the Marines and sailors of 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, and 12th Marine Regiment participated in during the past year, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph J. Elkins, the religious program specialist for the battalion.
“Once a month for more than a year, we have taken residents to the Ishikawa Recreational Park to walk around with them,” said Elkins. “We socialize with them, talking and taking pictures, which gives them a break from their day-to-day routines. Also, to help the facility recover from the effects of the typhoon that hit the facility last year, we painted a couple buildings they use as storage for arts and crafts.”
To show appreciation for the volunteer efforts of the Marines and sailors, the facility presented 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, with gifts, according to Tokushichi.
“First we gave them a letter of appreciation for all their hard work in helping us repaint the damaged buildings,” said Tokushichi. “After that, we gave them kanji paintings created by the residents which say ‘Thank You.’ Finally, we presented them with flowers the parents of the residents prepared to show appreciation for all their efforts.”
Capt. Caleb A. Murphy, commanding officer of Headquarters Battery, 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, accepted the gifts on behalf of the 12th Marine Regiment.
“I would like to express our appreciation to them for letting us be a part of the community and giving the Marines a chance to give back while they are here on Okinawa,” said Murphy.
The Marines and sailors plan to continue volunteering and strengthening their relationship with the facility, according to Elkins.
“Coming out and volunteering here gives the community a chance to recognize the Marines and sailors for their humanity and helpfulness,” said Elkins. “It also gives the Marines and sailors the chance to get off base and experience parts of the island and ways of life they would not see if they did not volunteer.”