By Lt. Keith Connor
Sailors and civil service mariners assigned to the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) participated in two community relations events during a port visit in Lisbon, Portugal, Oct. 21-25, 2019.
The first event took place Oct. 22 at Entrajuda Banco de Bens Doados, where Sailors used forklifts to fill and pack bins that were to be shipped to partner organizations.
“It felt great, like I made an impact,” said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jonathan Green. “I feel like we helped strengthen our relationship with the Portuguese people and the community of Lisbon.”
Entrajuda Banco de Bens Doados acts a midway point for donated goods, which are repackaged to the specifications of different organizations that benefit the homeless and those in need.
The second event took place Oct. 23, when members of the crew visited the Ronald McDonald House, where they were met by Ana Patacho, House Manager for Ronald McDonald Lisbon. The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of families while their children undergo treatments at the Dona Estefania Hospital in Lisbon.
“I felt that we really connected with the people of Portugal and that we gave something back,” said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Jasmine Jordan. “I really enjoyed seeing the great work that Ronald McDonald House was doing and meeting some of the families staying there.”
Members of the Mount Whitney watched a video of the founder, Dr. Audrey Evans, describing her vision for providing a safe place and residence for families with children receiving medical care. Following the video, members of the Mount Whitney cleaned windows, window shades, the garage, basement, and signage outside. Ana Patacho and Helena Camacho, a home assistant at the facility, gave a tour to Sailors, who were then able to interact with families that were staying there.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to support our NATO allies in every way possible, including on-the-ground work, done through community relations projects,” said Capt. Cassidy Norman, commanding officer of the Mount Whitney. “Our Portugal port visit was an excellent opportunity to partner with two organizations, Entrajuda Banco de Bens Doados and Ronald McDonald House, and to support the vital work being done at both organizations.”
Mount Whitney, commissioned on Jan. 16, 1971, is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship. Homeported in Gaeta, Italy, the ship operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.