Marines, sailors help clean windows for seniors near Camp Foster
NAKAGUSUKU, Okinawa — About a dozen Marines and sailors from camps Foster and Kinser and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma visited a local senior citizens home Wednesday to help them prepare for the holiday season. “I heard two days ago that today is the day when Americans are coming,” said 87-year-old Toshiko Tokeshi, one of 100 residents of Shinsei En, a senior citizen’s facility in Nakagusuku south of Camp Foster.
“I have been looking forward to seeing them,” she said as she walked the hallway watching the military volunteers.
“All the windows will be clean for the New Year,” she said with a big smile.
Cpl. James Denman of Camp Foster’s 1st Marine Aircraft Wing said he participated because he wanted to help out in the local community. “It is important to [give] back to the community where we are staying. When you go home, you feel that you accomplished something,” he said.
“This is a good way to see the island more,” said Lance Cpl. Jacob Byrd, an Atlanta native also with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. “I do the same thing back home.”
Magokazu Sakieda, a facility nurse, said the staff relies on the military community’s volunteer work. He said they help clean areas that facility staff cannot get to during routine cleaning, especially windows.
The senior citizens home sits atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
“With the beautiful ocean view, residents spend most of the day by the window,” he said. “Without the help from the military people, it is almost impossible for us to keep the windows clean … with our limited workforce.”
More than just practical help, though, the military’s regular visits are “always stimulating for the residents,” Sakieda said.
“A large number of residents have interacted with Americans when they were younger,” he said. “Those fond memories came back to them when they saw the American volunteers and lingered even after they left.”