NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Volunteering is one way that Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) can get to know their community and help make a difference at home.
For Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Rio Flores, volunteering is second nature, and helping her community is one way she can show how having a Sailor around is a positive experience.
Flores began attending Vineyard Community Church three months ago and started volunteering soon after by greeting people and educating youth during services.
“It helps to get to know the community,” said Flores. “I’ve seen it the last two times I’ve done hospitality. The other lady doing it knew everybody by their first name. At churches I’ve gone to in the past, we didn’t even know the people sitting next to us.”
Heather Powell, the children’s ministry pastor at Vineyard Community Church, knows how helpful Sailors can be.
“Having a Sailor volunteer brings structure, brings accountability, and brings a level of confidence to the classroom,” said Powell. “They know how to work with various people, so it enables the kids to learn a little bit better.”
Flores has been volunteering in local communities since she joined the Navy 13 years ago, and is something she is instilling into her children.
“It’s always been my thing,” said Flores. “I always wanted to help. Even before volunteering at the church I would go to my children’s school, and when I was stationed in Chicago, I would volunteer at the nursing home. I remember when I was in San Diego, I had my oldest child, who was about six months old, on my baby carrier, as I picked up trash on the beach. Once he was old enough to pick up trash, he did it beside me as I did it while I had my newest child on my baby carrier.”
Flores’ skills as a leader aboard George Washington have proven to be translatable to what she does at Vineyard Community Church.
“Rio has a very sweet spirit about her,” said Powell. “She is very gentle, but also authoritative, so the kids have learned very quickly to respect her and to trust her, which is enormus when you’re talking about instilling eternal value into kids. They have to trust whom they work with. She is the quiet, confident person that understands the bigger picture in what she is doing. She is invaluable to our team as far as team unity, comaraderie, and just understanding the value of each person’s place.”
Even though volunteering is beneficial to a Sailor’s annual evaluations, Flores hopes other Sailors can see the greater good in volunteering in the community.
“Even though the Navy emphasizes for people to help in the community, it shouldn’t just be for eval[uation]s,” said Flores. “It feels good knowing that you’re able to help somebody. I don’t know if it’s just me or the way I was raised, but it is something I am instilling in my children.”
Vineyard Community Church is military friendly, and is aware of the strengths service members can bring to the table for volunteering.
“A value I see in having service members teach is the diversity they bring and the experiences they’ve had from what they have been exposed too,” said Powell. “They are able to teach the kids that and relate it in some way to a positive message for these little guys.”
Vineyard Community Church has a four-step process for George Washington Sailors that would like to come volunteer. The first step is to go to church and see if it’s something you would want to be a part of and help make a difference in the community in which they serve.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.