By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Scotty Parker, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia. (October 22, 2015) – Naval Special Warfare Group TWO (NSWG-2) Sailors volunteered at Shelton Park Elementary School as part of the ‘Lunch Buddy Program in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Oct. 22.
The Lunch Buddy Program consists of NSW Sailors having lunch with and mentoring students who are experiencing changes at home, difficulty in school, or those who simply need a positive role model in their lives.”
“The Lunch Buddy Program is a great way to volunteer in the community we live in,” said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Bryan Zayicek, the NSWG-2 Intelligence Department Leading Petty Officer. “Providing mentorship to the students shows them that we care and want them to do well in school.
According to Charisse Warren, a third grade teacher at Shelton Park Elementary School, over 80% of the students have a parent or parents that are either in the military or work on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
“Most of the students’ mothers or fathers are in the military and they look up to their parents as heroes,” said Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Margie Rodriguez, of NSWG-2 Public Affairs Department. “The students we sit down with have a parent that is deployed and I feel like we give them the feeling of someone they can relate to, like a big brother or sister.
Military children are often left without one of their parents due to training and deployments.
“So it’s a great way to support our brothers and sisters currently deployed in the military and I’m sure it gives them a sense of relief knowing other service members are providing time to their loved one, a person that could relate to the military life of their parents, while they are deployed,” said Rodriguez
The NSWG-2 First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA) coordinated a partnership with Shelton Park Elementary School for the 2015-2016 school year. The partnership so far has included welcoming students on their first day of school, an archeological dig project with the fifth grade classes and participating in the ongoing Lunch Buddy Program.
“We have established a great relationship with the school staff who warmly welcomes us every time we arrive at the school and they want as many service members as we can bring anytime we can find time to help out,” said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Chris Vredeveld, of NSWG-2 Intelligence Department. “The look on the student’s faces when they see us walking down the hallways is always filled with excitement, and it’s a great way to be involved in our community.”
Zayicek, also the NSWG-2 FCPOA Vice President, said “The NSWG-2 FCPOA is always looking for more volunteers to participate in the Lunch Buddy Program at Shelton Park Elementary School and it is open to service members of all rank. If NSW Sailors are interested in participating we usually volunteer every Thursday at 1100.