The Seafarers’ time-honored tradition of providing humanitarian assistance to those in need continues to be displayed on the world’s international stage.
The latest episode occurred May 10 in the Republic of the Philippines when – during an official visit – SIU crew members and AMO officers from the USNS 1st Lt Jack Lummus presented a $1,000 donation to the Pampangabased Smile Train Philippines Foundation, Inc.
Smile Train is an international children’s charity (a hospital) that provides 100-percentfree cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in more than 85 developing countries around the world. The offer to look in on the facility was sent to Lummus Master Capt. David Hagner.
The invitation to visit the hospital was “… based upon my own recent marathon fundraising for them (London 2017, Jacksonville 2017),” Hagner said. “So, I asked them to expand the guest list as an opportunity to bring some favorable exposure to both the program/ ship/crew and to their great charity.”
According to Hagner, the Lummus at the time was in the Philippines supporting Exercise Balikatan 2018, an annual joint forces U.S.- Philippines military partnership operation. “We were anchored in Subic Bay conducting routine maintenance between the partial discharge and backload of our prepositioned USMC roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) cargo used in the exercise when we made the visit to Pampanga,” he said.
Joining Hagner during the visit and donation presentation were OS Charles Catunao, Chief Engineer Michael Fagan and Electronics Officer Clifford Ward. Catunao, on behalf of Lummus’ officers and crew, presented the $1,000 check to Smile Train’s Director for the Philippines Kimmy Flaviano. Also present were Dr. Edmund Mercado, a plastic surgeon who performs many of the procedures at the facility, and Marlon Punzalan, an Ambyth shipping agent. According to Hagner, the Ambyth family of companies and it principals were generous sponsors of his 2017 fundraising efforts for Smile Train in London and Jacksonville.
During the recent visit, members of the Lummus delegation had lunch with the facility’s director and members of her staff. They also saw a number of children who had undergone procedures the day before as well as others who were back for suture removals and follow-ups. Delegation members also saw a few infants who were at the facility for pre-op assessments.
Proceeds for the donation were taken from a cash reserve that accrues from the onboard sale of assorted goods (soft drinks, snacks, etc.) to mariners in the vessel’s slop chest. “Rather than solicit from individual crew members, we made the donation from a small crew fund we maintain for such purposes,” said Hager. “We have previously supported (from the same fund) a charity golf tournament for The Heart of Texas Young Marines and sponsored a rider in the Dana Farber Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride for cancer.”
The Lummus is operated by Crowley Liner Services.
# # #