FEBRUARY 17, 2017, NORFOLK (NNS) – Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) worked together with other Sailors to set up the 25th anniversary of the Polar Plunge 2017 Special Olympics event on the waterfront in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Feb. 2.
Polar Plunge is held annually across the United States, including five locations throughout Virginia.
Volunteering to set up the event wasn’t just a fun day outside of work, but also an opportunity for GW crew members to give back to the local community while learning valuable life lessons.
“It is important for Sailors to volunteer, because when the job is done they know they did something for someone else, and they never have to look for a reason as to why,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Gloria Fisher, a volunteer at the event. “It hits them on a different level. It humbles them into being a better Sailor, a better mentor, and an all-around better person in their community.”
Polar Plunge is an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and businesses to give back by raising funds for their local Special Olympics programs. For individuals like Fisher, this event hit a little closer to home.
“I have a nephew who is autistic,” said Fisher. “When there are large crowds, he’s closed off and may have different types of tantrums. There are autism groups that participate in these types of events to get them out of their shell, so this event is personal to me.”
No matter the reason Sailors chose to volunteer, it all comes back to the principle of giving back.
“Volunteering allows the community to see that the Navy gives back,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Demetria Horton, a volunteer at the event. “Not only do we proudly serve our country, but we proudly serve our community.”
People know Sailors protect and serve while deployed; however, they may not realize a Sailor’s duty doesn’t stop just because they’re in port.
“Any chance we get to serve the community, we try to take it,” said Chief Warrant Officer Carl Smith, communications officer aboard George Washington. “As Sailors we are responsible for protecting from abroad, as well as protecting our local community.”
A majority of GW Sailors who volunteered at this event are assigned to the ship’s combat systems department, radio division (CS-1). The CS-1 leadership team has inspired junior Sailors to give back through many events.
In July 2016, CS-1 participated in a landscaping volunteer project. A few months later in September 2016, the division helped out at the Ronald McDonald House.
While each of the volunteer events allowed GW Sailors to help the local community, setting up for this year’s Polar Plunge gave CS-1 Sailors a chance for more teamwork and camaraderie.
“Volunteering to set up Polar Plunge gave us a chance to work together outside of the workplace,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class John Broge, a Sailor assigned to CS-1. “It was nice to have a break from the day-to-day tasks. We were able to be more relaxed and enjoy hanging out, while working as a team to get the job done.”
GW Sailors are encouraged to continually give back to the community and COMRELs are a great opportunity to do so; they are held throughout the year and are open to the entire command.
Cmdr. Philip Bagrow, Navy command chaplain aboard George Washington, regularly notifies GW Sailors of upcoming COMREL opportunities. Sailors interested in upcoming volunteer events can contact the command religious ministries department for more information.
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jamin Gordon, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs