By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kiona Miller, Fleet Week New York Public Affairs
NEW YORK (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) volunteered their time to deliver food to elderly residents of Staten Island as part of a Meals on Wheels community relations project during Fleet Week New York, May 21.
Meals on Wheels of Staten Island, Inc. delivers two meals, five days a week to approximately 1,200 elderly residents who are 60 years of age and older with restricted mobility as part of an overall mission of providing fresh nutritional meals to those in need.
Although meal delivery is a primary service, volunteers also cultivate a social environment and assist with immediate household needs.
"We have 20 percent paid staff and 80 percent who are volunteers," said Jean R. Ringhoff, board member for Meals on Wheels. "Most of the volunteers are older than the recipients, and most of the recipients are homebound. When (the volunteer) goes to someone's house, they may be the only person that the resident will see during the day, so they take the time to talk to them and ask them if they need anything."
During the event, Sailors paired with delivery drivers to assist with the packaging and delivery to the homes. The Sailors also took the time to speak with each recipient in an effort to show appreciation for their support to the military.
"I always look for community relations events to do," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Anthony Sonola. "It was blast for me. I was able to shake people's hands, and it was great to see the way they smiled when they saw me. They get this meal every day, but something is different about today."
The event also provided an opportunity for Sailors to connect with residents who are military veterans. Many residents shared their experiences during their time in the military with the Sailors following the meal delivery.
Sonola expressed the importance of military service members participating in volunteer opportunities as way to better connect with local communities.
"People see us on the street as military and they thank us for our service," she said. "Giving back to them is awesome because you are able to relate to them. You can tell them you are from this community and you can relate to them."
Fleet Week New York, now in its 27th year, is the city's time-honored celebration of the sea services, and an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services. Fleet Week New York has been held nearly every year since 1984.