Honoring the Local Community through “Service” is at the Forefront of Fleet Week Port Everglades
30 April 2023
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (April 29, 2023) – Community relations events presents an opportunity for Sailors to give back to the communities that support and appreciate the Armed Services of America. Each year during Fleet Week visiting Sailors and Marines are asked to participate in COMREL activities during their time in port and there is always an abundance of volunteers.
This year COMREL consisted of visits to veteran and senior facilities, school performances and clinics by Navy Band Southeast, visits to a number of local schools, supporting local YMCAs and hosting a “STEM” summit inside one of the Port Everglades Terminals.
Sailors attached to the USS Indiana (SSN 789), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS New York (LPD-21), and Marines supporting the ships participated in the two or three community service projects each day Tuesday through Saturday.
During a visit to the Alexander “Sandy” Nininger Veterans Nursing Home, Sailors spent time talking, dining and playing games with the residents. Before leaving the nursing home residents serenaded the Sailors with the God Bless America
After the visit Lt. j.g. Nichol Klee who serves on the USS Cole (DDG-67) said, “I think it’s good to have the youth of the navy to speak with folks that have served at a different time. Their experience is vastly different from ours. Listening to their stories about war teaches us.”
Ten Sailors travelled to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum to complete landscaping painting, and minor maintenance projects throughout the grounds of museum. After the work was complete, the Sailors took time to tour the museum. The staff of the museum is comprised of veterans from all service branches who volunteer to keep the museum operating. Afterwards, the Sailors were served lunch and explored the library section.
School visits comprised most of the volunteer opportunities and one such event attended by Sailors from USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS Indiana (SSN 789) was at the Atlantic West Elementary School in Margate, Florida. The Sailors went to various grade level classrooms to read and answer questions from the students. The Atlantic West Elementary School serves students from the local Margate, Florida community.
Principal Shereen Reynolds of Atlantic West Elementary was grateful for the service members presence.
“On behalf of the Atlantic West Elementary community, I thank you for visiting our campus, “ she said. “Our students were overjoyed to meet the sailors, and learn about life on a naval ship. The experience had a positive impact on them.”
The L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center held a Family Fun Day in during Fleet Week Port Everglades where Sailors from the USS Cole (DDG-67) volunteered to help man some of the stations set up for children in the local community. During the same time, Sailors from the USS New York (LPD-21) volunteered to assist with the Family Fun Day in Hollywood, FL.
“The YMCA is very grateful for the U.S. Navy Sailors that joined us for our Healthy Kids Day,” said Tongelia Milton, Associate Vice President of Event Operations and Marketing at the The L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center. “They came in, helped with set-up and parking. Best of all, they participated in activities with the kids – that was so much fun for the kids and the Sailors. Healthy Kids Day is meant to encourage kids to stay active and healthy. The added encouragement from the Sailors helped a lot.”
In all, Fleet Week Port Everglades 2023 Sailors supported more than 15 volunteer opportunites which included providing VIP tours for more than 1,300 school groups and visiting hundreds of youths within the classroom.
The US Navy has supported Fleet Week since 1990. The event, hosted by Broward Navy Days (BND) and other military support organizations enables the Navy to showcase to the residents of South Florida, the superior technology and capabilities of the Navy and the service members who serve the nation.