Thursday, August 19, 2010

Volunteers Step Into Mess Crew's Shoes

Today Project HOPE team members, as well as other civilian volunteers and officers of the Iwo Jima, had the opportunity to trade places with some of the ship’s kitchen staff. They came away with a new appreciation for how much effort goes into everyday food preparation.

The event began with a sign-up sheet posted on the Wardroom door proclaiming an “FSA CS Night Off.” NGO (non-governmental organization) volunteers, officers, and others could sign up to undertake various kitchen duties such as serving and washing dishes.

The turnout was considerable. Team members Matya Cooksey and Susan Eilermann washed dishes for several hours after lunch to prepare for dinner, when more people were scheduled to take part.

“I did the scrubbing and I learned how to load the dishwasher-- which is called ‘the Dragon’ --and Matya dried the dishes and arranged the silverware in the appropriate spots... And we rocked,” Susan said.

The dinner itself was definitely one of the best meals we’ve had on the Iwo Jima so far. Dr. Diane Seemann from Germany cooked thick-crusted pizza with robust cheddar cheese. There was also succulent pasta in alfredo sauce with chicken. Finally there was ice cream for dessert, complete with candy toppings.

“It’s like an honor to be able to serve our men and women (in uniform),” said Janinatt Viteri of the NGO Give a Kid a Backpack.

HOPE team member Dr. Manish Oza agreed. “It’s good for everyone. It gives you a greater appreciation for the effort that goes into making the food and the cleanup. You’re not really aware of all that until you do it yourself.”

In the end, the day proved to be an excellent chance to better identify with our partners in the Navy. With this mutual appreciation, we’ll continue to make this a better Continuing Promise for everyone.

Story and photos by HOPE volunteer and PAO, Eric Campbell

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