SLIVEN, Bulgaria - Joint Task Force-East repaired a community center and officially reopened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 10. Members of the U.S. Navy and Bulgarian Land Forces worked together to repair the Dame Gruev Center for the Disabled as part of a humanitarian civic assistance effort.

U.S. Naval Construction Battalion 11, out of Gulfport, Miss., and Sliven Center Bulgarian Land Force Engineers train together through projects similar to this.

"The best part of our training exercise in Bulgaria is getting to work in the community, and the Navy construction engineers got to work with the Bulgarian engineers on this project," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. David E. Hurley, Joint Task Force-East commander of U.S. forces in Bulgaria.

Toncho Tonchev, president of the Dame Gruev Center for the Disabled, said he can see the specialty skills in the Navy engineers, noting their professionalism and that of the Bulgarians working alongside them.

"Thank you to the guys that worked here," said Tonchev. "I would like to wish you success in future missions like this. Be kind with the disabled people of the world like you were kind to us."

Repairs included the hallway, door and wall fixtures, painting the interior, as well as the complete renovation of the bathroom.

The center is a place where many throughout the community come together to socialize and play cards or checkers. It runs with the help of the municipality, which pays for the utilities, but also through donations from community sponsors.

Joint Task Force-East strives to leave a positive impact in the local areas by providing humanitarian civic assistance projects.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16