MEMPHIS, Tenn. (NNS) -- Members of the Junior Enlisted Association from Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South volunteered alongside members of the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team at Lester Community Center in Memphis, Tennessee, Oct. 25.
Twenty service members worked with approximately 200 other volunteers from the Memphis area, as well as members of the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team, to refurbish outdoor basketball courts, paint the building, update landscaping, and clean up the grounds of the community center.
The volunteer event is part of the "Commitment to Service" initiative, a Department of Defense program in which service members and athletes will work together to serve their communities.
"We are out here today to give back to a wonderful community," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Kim Tucker, a Sailor from NSA Mid-South. "It is important to be out here at these events and show that there is a Navy presence in the community and we are here to help when we can."
For Grizzlies forward Jarnell Stokes, the opportunity to get back into the community was reminiscent of his youth.
"Growing up in Memphis, I really looked up to the players," he said. "I am so happy to be out here and work with these kids because I know what it means to them."
The nearly 200 volunteers made quick work of the numerous projects that needed to be completed on before lunch was served. Players hustled around lending a helping hand where they were needed. It was impossible to not notice Grizzlies' 7-foot-1 Marc Gasol tower above other volunteers, helping to paint a mural on the building.
"The Navy is first class," said Stokes. "It is great to get out here and work side by side with service members because the NBA and the Navy are important in their communities, so for all of these people to see us out here together is really special."
For service members, volunteering alongside the famous athletes was just another day at work.
"They are just normal people like us," said Tucker. "Everyone has been great and we all get along so well because we are working together for the same cause."
The day finished with four new Grizzlies-themed basketball courts, brand new trees and plants in the ground, and a fresh coat of paint on the building.
"These events are important because the military is built on volunteerism," said NSA Mid-South Command Master Chief Tuck Williams. "We are an all-volunteer force, so it's in our blood. It is also important for service members to get out in Memphis and talk to community members and let them know what we are all about, which is lending a helping hand when we are needed and being there for the community and the American people."
For more news from Naval Support Activity, Mid-South, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsams/.