OKINAWA CITY, OKINAWA, Japan --
Joyful faces lit up the room as donations of food, water, and clothes were given to a single-mother shelter provided by the Camp Courtney Chapel attendees in Okinawa City on Oct. 4.
Rainbow Heights is an Okinawa City mother and child-life support facility, and also an emergency shelter for mothers and their children.
Navy Lt. Youree H. Posey, the Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, chaplain, said that this is their third time donating to the shelter.
“We have done this sporadically throughout the last year and a half,” said Posey. “It was dependent on COVID restrictions and the state of emergency, but now that is lifted so we can continue to build our partnership and continue to offer the ability to serve alongside them; to assist them in any ways that we can to try to make a positive impact in the local community.”
The shelter can house up to 10 families.
Throughout the pandemic, life has been hard for the people living in the shelter said Ichiro Umehara, the community relations specialist for Camps Courtney and McTureous.
“I have worked with Rainbow Heights shelter for over 25 years. The single mothers are going through a hard time right now,” said Umehara. “They don’t expect donations but he (Posey) always asks ‘What do they need?’ This facility is funded by the mayor of Okinawa City, and he said he appreciates the donations from Headquarters Bn. and sometimes III Marine Expeditionary Force so it's very helpful with making a good relationship with the Marine Corps and the local community.”
Posey expressed his gratitude to Umehara saying that this would not be possible without him.
“It is not up to us to decide what Rainbow Heights needs, but he is able to go to them and ask ‘What can we do for you?’” said Posey. “He is able to get those requests and then, we in turn, speak to those members of HQBN and there is just a tremendous support network of wanting to be able to help others within this community.”
Marine Corps chapels on Okinawa and their chaplains work consistently with members of the U.S. military community to help out members of the local community.
“We are here for our job, but we are also here living in their country,” said Navy Seaman Issabella Livingston, a battalion staff religious program specialist with Headquarters Bn. 3rd MarDiv. “It is important for us to know how we can help, not only as Marines and sailors, but as a community. You never know when the time is going to come when you could be in need.”