- Posted August 25, 2013 by
U.S. Sailors feed hungry Japanese homeless
Story and Photos by Sky M. Laron
NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Director of Corporate Communications
YOKOSUKA, Japan – NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka Sailors took to the streets Aug. 20 to feed dozens of homeless Japanese community members outside the gates of Yokosuka Naval Base.
For more than a century and a half, the U.S. Navy has maintained a presence in the Far East to promote peace and stability. Two local city parks served as the backdrop where these same Sailors responsible for maintaining a forward presence in the region offered their hearts, hands and food to care for those local residents they call neighbor.
“My main motivation is in knowing that it could be me out here without a meal to eat --living in the streets,” said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Elijah Burgos, Logistics Support Representative for NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka and a member of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD). “I feel wonderful seeing the smiles on the faces of people who are less fortunate.”
CSADD, the group that Burgos is a member, is a peer-to-peer mentorship program used Navy-wide. The program is geared at Sailors 18 to 25 years old, to reinforce the culture of “Shipmates helping Shipmates.” The program is different because it gives young Sailors the opportunity to help each other through interaction and to come up with their own creative ways to combat destructive behavior, such as volunteering to help feed the homeless.
“CSADD aims at promoting good decision-making,” said Yeoman 1st Class Tynesia Gundy, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Military Administration Leading Petty Officer and fellow CSADD member. “Much of my motivation is setting a good example for junior Sailors and my family.”
Early in the evening the Sailors and their families spent much of their limited off-duty time preparing sandwiches and gathering up nonperishable food items as well as juice and bottled water to distribute to those in the community who needed the nourishment most.
“I have always been the type to help others no matter what their story is,” said Quartermaster 2nd Class Novelyn Thomas, who is a CSADD advocate and working in NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s Operations Department. “You never know what type of struggles a person has been through that has brought them to that point in their life.”
The Sailors partnered with 51-year old mobile soup kitchen volunteer Yoichi Matsushima, who himself is a member of the Yokosuka based Mikasa Catholic Church, which sits adjacent to the Navy base.
“Our former Italian priest, Father George, started feeding soup to the homeless seven years ago,” said Matsushima, adding that his goal is really very simple “we just want to save homeless people.”
Good deeds and charity is nothing new for the Sailors of NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka who regularly work with the local community on various projects from cleaning up city streets to hand delivering toys to area children’s hospitals.
“Arigato”, or thank you in Japanese, rolled off the tongues of the nearly 50 individuals who were able to eat that night, with a general sense of gratitude and thanksgiving filling the evening air as bows and smiles of appreciation where shared by all.
“A simple meal gives a person hope that they can make it through another day,” said Gundy. “I want to set the example for everyone so that they might start to care and are motivated to help someone.”
Thomas expressed similar sentiments.
“It make's me feel good because I'm giving back to those who are less fortunate and can't provide themselves with a meal each night and knowing that I was able to help some makes a difference,” said Thomas. “It just reminds me of how fortunate I am to have a career and be able to provide for my family.”
As the last bag of food was handed out and the final hot bowl of soup was put into the waiting hands of a community member in need, the NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Sailors walked back to base.
It was late and they still had their day-job duties to perform in the morning, which is to serve the Asia Pacific Region’s forward deployed maritime warfighter with 24/7 operational logistics support across the U.S. Navy’s largest geographical area of responsibility, no small task.
It had been a long night but one that will remain vivid in the minds of these volunteers.