BSRF Marines touch local Romanian community

BSRF Marines touch local Romanian community

SSgt Nigel V. Priesman (left) and Sgt John W. Williams (right) help a child unwrap a toy given by generous Americans provided in a partnership through an organization called United Hands Romania, a nonprofit that works alongside other nonprofits in the United States. The child is part of a group home for neglected children that fall under the Child Protective Agency of Romania. Priesman is the civil affairs noncommissioned officer in-charge and Williams is the security detachment noncommissioned officer in-charge for Black Sea Rotational Force. Photo by SSgt Wayne Edmiston.

CONSTANTA, Romania (June 23, 2015) - Marines of the Black Sea Rotational Force got the opportunity to reach out to the community and make a child's day a little brighter taken with enthusiasm. The Child Protective Agency of Romania has custody of neglected children, ranging from toddlers to 17-year-olds. These children live in group homes with as many as 50 other children.

The rotation of BSRF Marines, from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, will work with the agency throughout the year to include playing sports, charity drives, renovation projects and various other events. For the Marines, the relationship is a win-win. Not only does it help the community, but it also helps build the morale of the Marines serving thousands of miles from home.

"The joy is contagious in their eyes," said SSgt Nigel V. Priesman, the civil affairs staff noncommissioned officer in-charge for BSRF. "I have three children myself and the time deployed goes by a little faster by having the chance to serve those in need."

Recently, the Marines played soccer with the older boys from one of the homes and the following day handed out gifts provided by donors in the United States.

The soccer game was a unique opportunity to interact with the older children with the CPA in Romania. The unique aspect of competition and the interaction that provides is one that combines the interests of the Marines and the youngsters.

"It was a good chance to get out with the kids and to actually play soccer with them," said LCpl Keith E. Crowley, an administration clerk with BSRF. "It was great to see how much they really enjoy our company."

For the gift-giving event, the children received everything from remote-controlled cars to clothing provided in a partnership through an organization called United Hands Romania, a nonprofit that works alongside other nonprofits in the United States. The Marines were able to be the stewards who actually presented the gifts to the children.

"More important than handing out presents is the fact that you are spending time with them," said Oana Blanda, public relations for United Hands in Romania. "The children really appreciate it."

The enduring partnership with the CPA is ongoing and is one that will continue as long as the Marines have a rotational presence here in Romania.

The Marines are always finding new ways they can continue to provide unique experiences and really serve as an example for a group of children who have a limited number of role models, explained Priesman.

"We are happy every time we can be involved in host community projects of this kind," said Priesman. "Each project is a special one."

The Marines of BSRF have a stance that being committed to the local area is vital to their success. Each area has it needs and struggles, but every helping hand has been graciously welcomed by the people of Romania and reassures them that we are part of their community.

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