By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/SW) Gretchen Albrecht, USS Wasp Public Affairs
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (NNS) -- Service members from USS Wasp (LHD 1), Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two, and Marine Expeditionary Unit 26 embarked aboard Wasp, volunteered at Taylor's Closet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., April 28, to help with painting and mentorship during Fleet Week Port Everglades.
According to its web site, Taylor's Closet is a non-profit organization whose mission is "to create a community in which girls in foster care and girls in need, regardless of their race or religion, will be empowered to break the cycle of abuse and neglect and live happy, healthy, and productive lives, realizing their God given destiny."
"I think this is an unbelievable experience for our young women to meet you all because it will give them a confidence and inspire them and unlock dreams they never thought they could achieve," said Linda Giambattista, executive director of Taylor's Closet. "It is such an honor that you to choose to help us and help mentor the young girls here today."
Rear Adm. Ann Claire Phillips, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two, volunteered for the event, and gave opening remarks thanking all of the volunteers, all women, for taking the time to help a great community organization.
"I think it is a great opportunity for young women to meet confident women in the Navy and understand how they developed that confidence, and to see how they have made a difference in their own lives and how they are able to serve their country," said Phillips. "It is a great opportunity to showcase the capable women we have serving in our Navy today."
To help maintain and spruce up the store, service members spent the morning painting furniture, walls and baseboards, tasks Giambattista said had been too large to tackle alone.
"We are so thankful the Navy came today to help us with some of the bigger chores and tasks," said Giambattista. "You are all heroes and we are so blessed you chose to come help us today."
Sailors enjoyed the chance to give back to women in need, and took advantage of the opportunity to mentor.
"I am glad I came today because I love being able to mentor young people and have a positive impact on their lives," said Yeoman Petty Officer 1st Class Lashondra Taylor. "I have had great mentors in my life and I know how important they are, so I wanted to do my part and give back to those young women here who need that mentorship and guidance and show them that there are people who care about them and their success."
Young women involved in Taylor's Closet's in depth mentorship program thanked the service members for their service and guidance.
"They have great attitudes and they made me feel great," said 14-year-old Nachalye Torres, a Taylor's Closet mentee. "I really want to thank them for all of their help today."
Taylor's closet volunteers treated service members to lunch after the work was complete, and sent them off with thanks and hugs.
"We are so thankful to each and every one of you," said Giambattista. "You sacrifice so much by serving our country, and we appreciate the extra time and mentorship you have shown all of us today. Thank you and God bless you all."