Sasebo expands Adopt-a-Sailor program from holiday-only to year-round
November 2, 2004
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A chaplain here decided to enhance the traditional Adopt-a-Sailor Program — where families stationed overseas invite single sailors into their homes for holiday meals — by making it more akin to what the word “adopt” implies.
It’s nice to share that “family” feeling holidays seem to muster, but the Adopt-a-Sailor PLUS Program, command chaplain Cmdr. Harvey Ranard said, would meet the desire of young single sailors for a family-like relationship throughout the year.
“It’s great in its own right … when families have single sailors overseas to their home for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, or to spend time together at Christmas. But particularly in the forward-deployed Naval force here, where sailors can be gone for months at a time, it’s just impossible to measure the value of having that kind of relationship yearlong ‘back home’ at the base,” Ranard said.
Adopt-a-Sailor PLUS is an enhanced level of support — Sasebo families “adopt” single sailors for at least one year, getting in touch for holidays as well as birthdays, re-enlistments and other special events.
“Even when they’re in port, they aren’t home; in truth, none of us are. But when a family and a single sailor commit to keeping up with the welfare of one another, spending special occasions together … just being there like family, it can make their overseas tours far richer and memorable,” he said.
In addition, he added, from a practical point of view, “it can make them happier, better sailors, too.”
One day last year during the busy holiday season, Ranard strolled into the Bayside Food Court.
“And just randomly, I noticed a young sailor sitting in there alone, eating one type of fast food or another, and he looked particularly sad, presumably yearning to be with family for the holidays. Maybe just plain old homesick,” he recalled. “That’s when I had this idea based on the Adopt-a-Sailor Program.”
Ranard explained his idea to base commander Capt. Michael James, who enthusiastically encouraged the volunteer program. Now, both the traditional and the expanded programs are available.
Guy and Barbara Burleson live in the main base housing area in Sasebo and have three children. The family is active in the community, including programs and events sponsored by the Chaplain’s Office. The Burleson family is eager to be involved in Adopt-a-Sailor PLUS.
“It will be a great experience for them, and for us,” said Guy Burleson, fire chief for training at Sasebo’s Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department.
“The happier the sailors are, the more welcome they feel in the community, the more warmth they can feel … it stands to reason that will make them better performers at work. It’s all about that glow of home, and happier is better,” he said.
“Also, as Christians I think Christ calls for us to reach out building relationships with others, and this way is a beautiful witness to that spirit of giving and sharing, no matter what religious belief you might have,” Burleson added.
Even though the PLUS version was only recently announced, Ranard said, “we’re already getting good feedback, and quite a few families have indicated they would like to be involved in the program. In some cases, they’ve offered to adopt more than just one sailor.”
Interested families should contact the Chaplain’s Office to register for either program by filling out a registration form or providing the correct information by telephone. Single sailors interested should contact their chain of command. Commands and departments have received information explaining how sailors can be included.
The deadline for families and sailors to register is Nov. 17.
“This is just another way our Navy community demonstrates that we ‘take care of our own,’” Ranard said.
Call the Chaplain’s Office at DSN 252-3380, or send e-mail to email@example.com for more information.