By By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay, USS Ashland public affairs
NAVAL BASE GUAM – Thirteen Marines and ten Sailors assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) participated in two community services projects on Sept. 9 during a port visit in Guam.
One group of service members volunteered at Island Girl Power (IGP) program facility by helping organize a thrift store, clearing a path for their nature park, and mentoring youth. Volunteers also helped organize the facility for the upcoming holiday season.
“We were given a tour to learn about the program when we arrived and my group helped clear a path for their nature park,” said Seaman Sean Lee, a Sailor volunteer from Miami, Fla. “It felt good to help out and be a part of a positive program.”
Island Girl Power is a prevention program for girls, ages seven to 14, with the primary mission of reducing teen pregnancy, suicide, substance and sexual abuse. The program offers positive activities, and the facility includes a clubhouse, thrift store and an adjacent 10 acres nature park where the youth can explore safely.
“I love for our girls to meet new people and then seeing the wonderful work they can do together,” said Juanita Blaz, the IGP program director. “The help is greatly appreciated and I now consider all the volunteers family.”
Blaz said several goals were accomplished that day but the greatest benefit was the connection the volunteers had made with the girls.
A second group of Sailors and Marines went to Hagnatna Public Library where they spent the afternoon doing arts and crafts and reading to local children.
“It was really fun to hang out with them for the day,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Noel Boyland from Caseyville, Ill. “I read a book that I remembered from when I was young and I thought the kids really enjoyed it too.”
Boyland said he was energized by experience.
“It reminded me of being a kid again,” said Boyland. “Just watching them run around and having fun was really awesome, and I was surprised I enjoyed it so much.”
Ashland is in Guam for a scheduled voyage repair availability with Marines assigned the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency.