NEW YORK (NNS) -- In a short time, USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) helped "pollinate pride" in a small New York community while in town for Fleet Week 2003.
Across the street from the former Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Sailors of the "Nation's Protector" and students from Crown Heights Youth Collective, gathered together to help clean up a weed-polluted garden outside Jackie Robinson School.
The garden is named after Thelma Cook, a senior citizen who lived in the complex across the street from the park.
"I can still taste her sweet potato pie," said Richard Green, chief executive of the Crown Heights Youth Collective.
Green said that Cook was someone who would always be willing to help out in the community any way she could. This year, the students and Oak Hill Sailors tried their best to help take her place.
In just two hours, the Thelma Cook Peace Garden had a more serene look, as handfuls of dead branches and more than 15 bags of weeds were carried away. Left behind were plants, flowers and a 20-foot tree planted in 1997, the year baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson's 50th anniversary.
Green says that cleaning up any area in the community gives everyone a sense of pride, and that it's important because it breeds more projects to constantly better the area.
"Before you know it, we have others in the community willing to follow the lead," Green said. "I like to call it 'pollinating pride.'"
Chaplain, Lt. David Hicks said his first experience with community service in New York City has been a wonderful treat.
"You get to work with the community and later turn around and see a Broadway play. It's great," said Hicks.
Chief Signalman (SW/AW) Terry K. Hall, the senior coordinator for the event, said cleaning up the park was a great way to promote our bond with the kids, culture and Brooklyn.
"The kids are mainly concerned with our daily routine aboard ship. Most of them have seen a ship, but never actually been on one," said Hall.
For those who haven't seen a ship, the kids are invited to visit while Oak Hill is in town for Fleet Week.
Talu E. Green has been going to the school since kindergarten and it's his third time cleaning up the park with the Navy. As the son of a Vietnam veteran, he says he has enjoyed each experience working with USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and now Oak Hill.
"The people are down to earth, easy to talk to and very friendly. It's fun, because they come spend a day with us and then we get to spend a day with them. We both get to see a bit of each world," he said.
Later, everyone returned to the school for lunch, and after visiting with the children, shaking hands and waving goodbye, Oak Hill Sailors agreed that the experience was unforgettable.
For related news, visit the USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/lsd51.