Vinson Volunteers Clear the Way for Cultural Bridge


Story Number: NNS030819-02Release Date: 8/19/2003 9:06:00 AM
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By Journalist Seaman Chris Fahey, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- Approximately 20 Sailors from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) braved the searing Hong Kong sun Aug. 8 to volunteer aid to the Ebenezer School and Home for the Visually Impaired.

The team from Carl Vinson, her embarked air wing and Destroyer Squadron 9 performed essential landscaping and preventive painting, and according to Master Chief Damage Controlman (SW) Mark Miller, created a safer environment for the 445 workers and handicapped residents of the 106-year-old school.

Volunteers spent the afternoon clearing a large patch of dense brush outside the school, and painting more than 2,500 feet of waste and water pipes.

While working, the crew joked about their new "battle scars."

"While we were cutting the shrubbery down, bees and fleas kept stinging us," said Miller, the project leader. "School workers would run out almost immediately and rub ointment on us. They were very caring, and we appreciated that."

According to Phoebe Yeung, a lead instructor at Ebenezer, the Sailors provided an invaluable service. Some Hong Kong citizens who volunteer are not always capable of handling the hard workload in the hot, muggy environment. She said the crucial labor might otherwise have taken months to complete.

Simon Leugh, the school's director, expressed his gratitude for the team's help. He educated them on the school's history and curriculum. At the school, he told them, students are taught to speak English and to read Cantonese, Mandarin and English in Braille. Learning such skills has proven beneficial to students, as many now succeed in a variety of professions.

"One of our pupils went on to be the first blind person from Hong Kong to earn a doctorate at Oxford University," said Leugh.

The daylong event was one of eight community-relations projects coordinated by Carl Vinson's Chaplain Department. Officials designed the projects to lend a helpful hand to the local community and strengthen ties between the two cultures.

"These things have always served a greater purpose," said Wendy Strawbridge, wife of Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (AW/SW) Patrick Strawbridge. She flew to Hong Kong to visit her husband after learning of his recent selection to chief petty officer. "It was just nice to help maintain a positive image and give back."

When the work was complete, Sailors cleaned up and prepared to leave. They had provided a lasting image of charity and goodwill to students like Jason Ho, who said, "the U.S. is very helpful and kind" for volunteering.

The Carl Vinson Strike Group is deployed in the western Pacific as a standing commitment to peace, stability and theater security in cooperation with friends and allies in the region.

For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.

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