By PO2 Amanda E. Brittingham
USS New York Public Affairs
Rolling off its deployment, crewmembers from the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) immediately kicked off their next year volunteering more than 2000 hours in community service, which propelled them to a successful 2016 annual Navy Community Service Program (NCSP) contest.
The New York placed 1st in the Health, Safety and Fitness Flagship and the Project Good Neighbor Flagship Awards and placed 2nd in the Personal Excellence Flagship Award.
The crew volunteered more than 570 hours at a local fire department, a humane society, children's hospital and Fleet and Family Support Center Programs and nearly 650 hours with Habitat for Humanity and with the Naval Station Mayport Base Chapel's family oriented events.
According to New York's Command Chaplain, Lt. Dirk Caldwell, Commander, Navy Region South East (CNRSE) Regional Coordinator Twilla Smith recognized the New York's dedicated performance and selected the New York to represent the region in this way.
"I think we were successful because we were able to demonstrate that our command considers community involvement to be an important mission of the ship and the Navy," said Caldwell. "New York Sailors repeatedly demonstrate how important it is to contribute to the greater community, whether that's the sense of community on the ship, or the greater community in which we live."
Available to all U.S. Navy Commands, the NCSP classifies participants by their shore or sea status and size, and recognizes volunteer efforts through five awards.
The categories include: Personal Excellence Flagship Award, Health, Safety and Fitness Flagship Award, Campaign Drug-free Flagship Award, Project Good Neighbor Flagship Award, and Environmental Stewardship Flagship.
All Navy commands can submit for the regional awards, however, the regional coordinator may select a command to represent their region through the Navy-wide NCSP competition.
According to Caldwell, a sixth award exist, the "USS Bainbridge Award," for overall excellence and in order to be eligible to submit for the award, the command must qualify in at least three of the five awards.
For Chief Petty Officer David Rodriguez, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity gave him the opportunity to give back to his community.
"As a leader, volunteering for me is a way to show my junior Sailors they should always make time to give back to the community that we serve. We learn great values from it because we can help families out that are less fortunate."
"To me, volunteerism is about aiding the community and those in-need, "said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Jeffries, from the New York.
"It shouldn't be driven by any selfish agenda or the expectation of receiving praise or rewards, such as a bullet for an evaluation or the Volunteer Service Medal.
This past year I had the opportunity to volunteer twice at Pickett Elementary School, once as a chaperone for the Nutcracker play and another as an assistant for Field Day athletic events, and it was a rewarding experience," he added.
Known for the 7.4 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center and forged into her bow, USS New York (LPD 21) is currently making preparations for sea trials and is projected to deploy 2018.