NSA Lakehurst Sailors win Navy Regional community service award

By Airman 1st Class Briana Cespedes | 87 ABW PA | Oct. 31, 2019

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —

Sailors with Naval Support Activity Lakehurst, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey earned the Navy Region Mid Atlantics Project Good Neighbor award for the second year in a row this fall. The team won for giving the most volunteer and service time to the community as a small shore command.

            The award is a part of the Navy Community Service Program, which has the goal of promoting volunteerism and community relationships between the U.S. Navy personnel and their local communities. Over half of the command at NSA Lakehurst volunteer on a regular basis with areas ranging from Ocean County to New York City. They work closely with nearly 50 organizations to include Habitat for Humanity, Ashley Lauren Foundation and Newbury School.

            “We have are over 1,600 [volunteer] hours for last quarter,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Alaffia Fox, 87th Force Support Squadron logistics specialist and assistant command volunteer coordinator. “I’m surprised at how powerful the volunteering is at this command. Everyone wants to participate and they want to be a part of helping.”

            One project the Sailors and the 87th Security Forces Squadron Airmen helped with was building a bridge for the children at Newbury. They needed access to their soccer field so the team took a month to plan, gather donations and materials and built the bridge.

“You’re not only doing it for the kids but you get to be with your fellow service members so you’re having fun while you’re doing it,” said Fox. “I feel like this is important because civilians don’t really feel a connection to us military members. It’s so important to show the community that we are involved, we are more than willing to help and we are putting our faces out there. They see we are as human as they are.” 

            The team at NSA Lakehurst extend the opportunity of volunteering to other branches across Joint Base MDL. Airmen from the 87th SFS and Marines with the Marine Aircraft Group-49 have already integrated with NSA in community projects. As command administration changes, there are plans to create more cohesive opportunities for all military branches.

            “We have an Airman and Marine who are ready to bring a new outlook to the program and incorporate the joint base,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ernesto Cortez, 87th SFS Master at Arms and leader of the Newbury School project. “We should be supporting each other especially when it comes to promoting good relationships with the community.” 

            NSA Lakehurst has led the effort in creating and sustaining community relationships and service for the past two years. The Navy Region Mid Atlantic’s Project Good Neighbor award spotlights a command that already gives back.

“Who doesn’t want to bring the victory for the command? For our men and women who stepped up to the plate and gave back to the community,” said Cortez. “I am very proud we got [the award] a second year in a row and I have a feeling, with the new volunteers, that we might get it a third year.”