Sailors assigned to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) paid a visit to a children’s home in Valparaiso, Chile, for a community relations (COMREL) project, June 7.
The group of 13 Sailors showed up with boxes of donations from Project Handclasp, painting supplies, and a desire to make improvements for the boys living at Arturo Prat Children’s Home.
“The team from the Underwood came here to paint and renovate certain areas of the establishment,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Josue Negron, who led the COMREL. “We spent a lot of time interacting with the kids, just talking and playing with them.”
Arturo Prat Children’s Home is home to 72 boys who range in age from 5 to 18. Underwood Sailors were joined by a group of Chilean sailors, and together they spent time repainting the stone walls outside the home’s buildings, as well as handrails for several sets of concrete steps.
“One of my favorite parts of today happened while I was painting, and one of the kids came over and just started helping out and trying to interact with me and talk to me,” said Engineman 3rd Class (SW) Scottie Morris. “I only understood a little bit [because of the language barrier], but it was nice seeing the smile on his face because he was able to help.”
After the Sailors finished painting outside, they headed inside one of the buildings to present the children with boxes of donations from Project Handclasp.
The donations included a box of hygiene items, a box of general medical supplies, and five boxes of stuffed animals.
“Their children’s reaction to the Sailors has been very receptive,” said Negron. “They’ve just been very cheerful and happy with smiling faces, trying to speak with us to improve their English. We definitely left a fingerprint on their hearts and minds. I don’t think they’ll ever forget us and vice versa.”
Underwood is deployed to Central and South America, and the Caribbean in support of Southern Seas 2012.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) support USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
Naval Today Staff, June 11, 2012