Blue Ridge spreads paint, joy at
special needs daycare
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class
Peter D. Lawlor, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – USS Blue
Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked U.S. 7th Fleet Sailors donated their
time during a routine port visit to Malaysia on March 2, painting
and tidying up Tasputra Perkim, a Muslim-based daycare facility for
special needs children.
The visiting Sailors painted the entire exterior of the building,
cut the grass, pulled weeds and raked up debris around the school
Storekeeper 2nd Class (SW) Natasha Johnson was part of the painting
team and she signed up for the project to support the ship’s E-5
Leadership Support Organization (5LSO), who spearheaded the event.
“I enjoy volunteering my time to help other people out,” said
Johnson as she rolled fresh coats of paint on the wall. “I used to
do Meals on Wheels and beach clean up projects at my last command.
Projects like these humble me and make me realize how blessed and
fortunate I am.”
Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Eric Cason was another 5LSO
member who also worked on the paint team. Cason said this is his
ninth community service project and he plans to do many more.
“I like to give back to the communities to show them that we are
appreciative for allowing us to be guests in their country,” said
Cason. “I think it’s also a great opportunity for us to be good
ambassadors while in host nations.”
The day was hot and the work was hard. But the Sailors involved in
the daycare center beautification project took time between
brush-strokes and weed pulling to spend time with the children.
The highlight of the day came when a handful of members from the 7th
Fleet Band made a surprise visit to give the kids a private concert.
As the band played, Sailors and kids danced in the freshly cut grass
and enjoyed the fruits of their labor. To sweeten the afternoon for
the children, goodie-bags were handed out as they relaxed and
enjoyed the live music performance.
Norazura Matkhamis, a staff member at Tasputra Perkim said she was
grateful for the hard-working Sailors and uplifting music provided
by the band.
“We are so happy and the children are so happy that the Sailors came
today,” said Matkhamis with a smile. “I want to thank the U.S. Navy
service members who were here today for all of their hard work. I
hope they all come back again to see us soon.”
Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Jeff Bartkoski and serves under
Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76,
the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the
flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is
headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an
operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
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