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Shaffer
09-03-02, 02:01 PM
What do you do when you need 35 offices, 10 activity rooms and a complete
adult day care center relocated?
You send in the Marines. At least that's what Onslow County's Senior
Services Center Director Marge Zima did.
"It's been wonderful," Zima said of having the Marine volunteers from 2d
Force Service Support Group. "They've been a big help to us."
Senior Services, formerly known as the Onslow County Council on Aging, has
combined their two Downtown Jacksonville buildings in need of repair and
totaling 8,000 square feet into one new 22,000 square-foot facility off of
Highway
258. The new site will house the 112 programs and services the Center
provides to approximately 4,500 people a month.
"They moved everything," said Zima. "There's no way we could have moved or
picked up this stuff - everything from exercise equipment with barbells to
desks. There's just no way we could have done that."
Zima said they had at least ten Marines each day during the week of Aug. 19
helping with the move. Four of them - Cpl. Francisco Santiago III from 2d
Transportation Support Battalion (TSB), Bravo Company, and Lance Cpl.
Joezette Flinn and Pfcs. Ryan Baker and Levon Mims from TSB, Terminal
Operations Company - were there all day, every day.
These Marines said they were happy to help - although when the call for
volunteers originally came, they thought they would be working with seniors.
"They tricked us," Evergreen, Ala., native Mims said laughing. "I wanted to
do something nice, and I seriously thought we were going to be working with
old people." In true Marine Corps spirit, Mims added, "But we adapted and
overcame." After Onslow County workers transported the center's equipment
and furniture to the new site, the volunteers were responsible for getting
everything into its rightful place.

"There's nothing glamorous about this. It's dirty work," said Wesley "Marty"
Martinez, an administrative officer with the center. "But I couldn't have
done it by myself -take 17 or 18 years of stuff and try to rearrange it." He
led a team of five Marines from 2d Maintenance Battalion, Operations
Maintenance Company, into a room filled with piles of boxes and equipment.

"This is nothing," Martinez said. "If you could just see what was already
distributed throughout the building," he added, shaking his head.

Although the work involved heavy lifting and moving, the Devil Dog
volunteers said the role was an important one to fill. "I think it's
necessary to help them with things they can't do," said Flinn, who used to
work at a senior day care center in her hometown of Akron, Ohio. "We help
the center, then they can help older people." Santiago, who is from
Springfield, Mass., agreed.

"There's a lot of things they wouldn't have been able to carry," said
Santiago, who volunteered during his leave and brought his brother Daniel
Santiago along to help. "(Although) we needed to get extra credit for moving
Don's (the center's accountant) furniture," he laughed. "It was about as
heavy as a house." Zima said the response she got to the call for volunteers
is indicative of the response she normally gets from the Marine Corps, which
also sends out a crew to help with the Rotary Club Picnic during May, Older
Americans Month.

"Every time we've asked, we've gotten help," she said, "and we deeply
appreciate it.

"I don't know what we would have done without them, to be honest." Zima and
the center's staff served the volunteers snacks and lunch for their
participation. Each volunteer also walked out the door with a certificate of
appreciation. Baker, of Kansas City, Kan., said that the personal
recognition was nice, but most important was how their volunteer service
reflected on the Corps.

"When people need help, it's good to serve them," he said. "People would
know you are a Marine, and if they need help, you would come. It makes the
Marine Corps look good."