Seabees step in to update facilities at Okinawa women's shelter
February 24, 2004
OKINAWA — Miyuki Weber manages the Izumi Ryo women’s shelter, which provides a safe home for battered mothers and their children.
Seven families — 22 women and children — share the worn-out facility. The one bathroom has ancient plumbing and no hot water. There is no air conditioning.
But thanks to 10 Seabees from Camp Shields’ Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, that’s changing. The Seabees spent their only Saturday off in February unloading tools, saws, hammers and drills. Then, they went to work. Now, water flows from the rusty pipes; a brand new barbed-wire metal link fence boosts security.
Weber, the safe house manager, said the shelter had all the fencing materials but no tools and no one to do the drilling needed to attach the fence poles to a concrete wall. Residents asked Navy volunteers to help — thereby avoiding the lengthy paperwork involved in having city workers perform the labor.
“It’s good for the children to see men working, because most of them don’t have fathers in their lives. They see men here doing a good thing,” said Kaori Shimizu, a community-relations specialist for Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa.
Lt. Terry Roberts, a Seabee who coordinated the project with Shimizu, had a different perspective. He hopes people also see his crew helping out. “Servicemembers don’t get credit for the good things they do in the community,” he said.
Added Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Stein: “This has been an excellent opportunity for us to get away from our normal construction and be ambassadors.”
The Seabees worked almost six hours erecting a three-strand, barbed-wire fence atop an existing concrete wall, giving the women’s shelter a secured perimeter along the side of the three-story building.
“Projects like this allow us to see how fortunate we are,” Stein said. “It’s good to know our valuable time will help make life easier for these residents.”