ABOARD USS KEARSARGE --
Marines and sailors from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) used their liberty time to refurbish a Middle Eastern women's shelter recently.
Though the community relations opportunity came up on short notice, the Marines readily volunteered for two days to clean and paint the house.
"It allows them to feel good about what they're doing for someone else,"said Petty Officer 1st Class William Craven, the MEU's religious programs specialist, who coordinated the project.
The group spent most of the first day cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms and large, open common areas. They used the second day for most of the painting.
"I did a lot of community service in high school and when I was in college,"said Lance Cpl. John Paszkiet, a MEU operations clerk.
Paszkiet added that when one of his supervisors told him about this project, he jumped at the chance because he had missed previous projects at earlier port visits during the MEU's deployment.
"Every time I found out about them, it was too late,"he said. "This time, I arranged my schedule so I could help."
Craven said that like previous projects, the shelter operators were glad for the work that they otherwise may not have been able to do on their own.
"They're just very receptive and very appreciative,"said Paszkiet.
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) is made up of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its Command Element. The 22nd MEU (SOC) is currently on a scheduled deployment as the Central Command (CENTCOM) ready reserve force.