Honor guard members’ visit makes for extra-special day
August 4, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- There are two annual events residents of Fircrest Residential Habilitation Center look forward to: Funfest in July and a holiday ferry cruise in December.
The former was made extra special thanks to participation from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Honor Guard.
Fircrest is a residential facility in Shoreline, Wash., that supports about 200 children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities ranging from mild to profound. Originally established as a Navy hospital and later a tuberculosis sanitarium, Fircrest was reinvented in 1959 and opened its doors as one of only five residential habilitation centers in Washington state. The facility is entirely self-sufficient, employing about 600 staff and volunteers.
Bob Colley, Fircrest recreation and athletics specialist, said the honor guard’s presence was one of the highlights of Funfest, which he described as the facility’s version of Seattle’s Seafair.
“Our residents, for whatever reason " whether it’s funding, transportation or whatever " don’t get the opportunity to do much outside in the community, so we try and bring that to them,” Colley said.
Funfest kicked off July 28 with a parade led by the JBLM Honor Guard, then continued with a daylong celebration of games, music and food. Prior to the parade, one resident was clearly overjoyed to see the honor guard. The resident, whose mother requested his name be withheld, said his favorite part of the day was interacting with members of the Honor Guard. Asking questions about their meticulously placed medals while thanking them for their service, he wore a grin as he posed with them for photographs.
“I think they’re someone to look up to because they risk their lives for us,” he said. “It makes me feel good that they came all the way out here to be in our parade.”
Specialist Adrian Falcon said having opportunities to meet and interact with people like the resident are what makes him proud to be a part of the honor guard. The highly visible team maintains a busy schedule of ceremonies on and off the installation, but its leaders enjoy making time for community outreach opportunities like the Fircrest appearance.
“Most of the time people don’t ask about our uniforms or about what we do, so it makes us feel pretty good when they show an interest,” Falcon said.
For Sgt. Jason Sowka, attending community events like Funfest is one of the most positive ways
to get the word out about the military.
“When we come out here and we show how we can be part of the community, it shows that we care,” Sowka said. “I hope they can appreciate us and know that we’re flying our flag with honor for them to make their parade that much better.”
Laura M. Levering: firstname.lastname@example.org