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USS Hawes Lends Helping Hand in Jamaica

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090904-03
Release Date: 9/4/2009 6:06:00 AM

From USS Hawes Public Affairs

JAMAICA (NNS) -- Crew members from the guided-missile frigate USS Hawes (FFG 53) participated in two community relations (COMREL) projects Aug. 25 during a port visit to Jamaica.

The first project involved renovating a local school, the Pineapple Place Basic School, which has been providing service to the children of Ocho Rios, Jamaica for 28 years.

The school has eight teachers, and more than 210 students. With the school year fast approaching, there was a lot of work which needed to be done around the school. Eleven members of Hawes' crew arrived to help out just in time.

"I'm so overwhelmed," said Leoni Golding, principal of Pineapple Place. "I didn't know what to do for September."

A new plywood classroom needed to be painted and the bare concrete floor of another classroom needed to be scrubbed and painted. Doors and shutters needed installation. Old and broken chairs and desks needed to be hauled away.

The Sailors used a rare day of liberty to head to Pineapple Place to lend a helping hand.

"We sometimes take our lives for granted," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class (SW) Andrew Rich, who participated in the COMREL. "I was very glad to give my time to help those less fortunate than myself."

The staff and students of the school were thankful for the work performed by the Sailors from Hawes. Under the direction of Marcia Williams, a teacher at Pineapple Place for 17 years, several current and former students turned out to see the improvements.

"On the most basic level, community relations is a true 'feel good' experience," said Hawes' Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Kristin E. Jacobsen. "We have Sailors who participate because of religious beliefs in the importance of helping others, some because they just like doing it, some who are participating as part of a group of friends. And with places like the Pineapple School, it is truly important to those who have families they miss and who recognize the importance of a safe, clean learning environment for children."

The second COMREL project of the day took place in St. Ann's, Jamaica at the St. Ann's Bay Hospital.

The hospital serves a wide coverage area, and is in constant need of supplies. Hawes delivered several boxes of useful medical and hygiene supplies. The items were part of Project Handclasp, a collection of donated items delivered around the world by the U.S. military.

The supplies, which included everything from baby lotion to microbiological swabs, were wheeled into a small conference studio on borrowed gurneys for the exchange ceremony.

The chief administrator for the facility, Carmen Johnson, said that all donations are of very great value.

Suzette Morris, the administrator for Jamaica's north-western health county was "Overjoyed" both with the donations and "the friends we didn't know we even had."

Jacobsen presided over the delivery of dozens of boxes much needed material, and spoke with hospital staff members during the visit.

"Its all part of being a good neighbor," said Jacobsen. "I believe one of the best parts of the community relations projects we do is not only the opportunity for Sailors to meet people they may not otherwise, and for the local citizens to meet us as well. Time and money spent on the local economy in all the tourist venues – and Ocho Rios had some outstanding ones – are important, but it is just as important that we reach out to our hosts and give them the chance to see what outstanding young men we have in the United States Navy and Coast Guard."

Hawes, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is deployed to Central America and the Caribbean under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, conducting joint theater security and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.



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