NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Approximately 50 USS Wasp (LHD 1) Sailors assisted residents of the Barrett Transitional Home remodel their Norfolk home Aug. 13-14.
The Barrett Transitional Home is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides transitional housing and organization to single, battered and homeless women in the Norfolk area. The home started in 2000, with a grant secured by St. Mary's Basilica when it ran a soup kitchen.
"I am very happy WASP Sailors came out to help us women today with our home," said Jill Riendeau. "You always hear about Sailors helping out foreign countries when they have a natural disaster or Sailors helping out somewhere else. I never thought there would be Sailors helping out locally and with us. I am extremely happy they are making this place feel more like a home."
Sailors from the ship's Volunteer Service Program (VSP) painted the interior of the home; laid new flooring in the house, installed ceiling fans and installed a wall.
"We stained the gazebo to protect it from water damage so the women would be able to smoke under a gazebo," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Natasha Brown. "Being able to help volunteer my time and give back to the community made me feel good especially since my time went to helping women who are getting their lives back on track. Seeing the looks on the women's faces when the Sailors were painting and putting the flooring down was worth it."
"This is who I am," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Andrew Berry. "It is my duty as a citizen to help others who are in need."
All of the residents of Barrett expressed their deepest gratitude for and the hope for a brighter day with the new amenities provided by the WASP Sailors. Most importantly the residents thanked the Sailors for treating them with respect.
"The work the Sailors have done here, made this place look better already," said Betty Jo Beard, a Barrett home resident. "When I first got here a year ago the carpet made the place look gloomy it felt like a place that you didn't want to be in. Now, with the new paint and flooring that has been put in you can feel the spirits and morale of the residents being lifted."
"Mostly when volunteers come to help out they just do their job and leave and have little interaction with the residents," said Beth Branch, volunteer coordinator of Barrett Transitional Home. "The Sailors from WASP were different; they interacted with the residents and made everyone feel like the ladies were apart of WASP's family."
Barrett Transitional Home is named after Fr. Walter C. Barrett, the first African-American pastor of St. Mary's who wanted to go beyond the soup kitchen and do more for people. The goal of the home is to break the cycle of homelessness and reestablish self-esteem, self-empowerment, and self-sufficiency in women who will become productive contributors to society.
The WASP VSP is continuing its goal of servicing organizations that service others by collecting tabs off of aluminum cans in the mess decks for the Shriner's Children's Hospital, which provides medical care to children. To get involved with VSP contact the chaplain's office at ex. 7426 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how to be a part of inspiring hope to others.
"Serving others helps people to mature because you get to appreciate things you have and help others who are less fortunate," said Berry. "The women at Barrett appreciated WASP being there; you could tell by the hugs we were receiving. Helping out people is something worthwhile and something that every Sailor should do."
For more news from USS Wasp (LHD 1), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd1/.