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News/Video Story: Volunteers spruce up Stork's Nest

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Angelique Perez and Airman 1st Class Jennifer Herring
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
The Stork's Nest at Camp Lester is getting a facelift thanks to The Friends of the Storks Nest and volunteers from Kadena Air Base. 

The Storks Nest supports the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Lester and provides free, temporary housing for high risk pregnant patients, parents of infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and relatives of patients in the Intensive Care Unit. 

To view the video for this story, click here.

"We're less than five minutes from the hospital and we provide a free home-like environment to individuals who have basically been uprooted from their normal conditions and just dropped here," said Ms. Liliana Gaffud, Manager of the Storks Nest. "So we're here to help ease their situation." 

The Storks Nest was founded in 1992 when the Navy donated two housing units for the sole purpose of providing housing and support for families involved in a high risk pregnancy or whose newborn required continuing medical attention after birth. 

The organization now has five cottages with four rooms in each. The rooms have been adopted by various military organizations and clubs from all four services on the island. The 18th Wing's five groups and two tenant organizations each sponsor a room while the Kadena USO sponsors an entire cottage. 

Each sponsor is responsible for decorating their individual room to provide a comfortable atmosphere for patients and their families. The current renovation of the Stork's Nest is designed to make the rooms feel even more like home. 

"The remodeling is going well," said Ms. Gaffud, "we have some new sponsors and some of the same sponsors who want to perk up their rooms a little bit and do some touch-ups and update the rooms with much needed items such as comforters, new sheets, new paint on the walls, and some of the comforts you would find at home."
About 20 volunteers from different Kadena squadrons showed up to help with the remodeling by painting, moving furniture, and hooking up new appliances. 

"I really feel good about volunteering, especially for a worthwhile cause," said Tech. Sgt. Bryan Herrington, a volunteer from the 18th Operations Support Squadron, "this really helps mothers who are in need. It's really good to get out here with the rest of Team Kadena and do something like this. It really gives us the feeling that we are reaching out to the community and making a difference." 

Furnishings, appliances, linens, kitchenware, and weekly cleaning of the common areas are all made possible through donations from charities, non-profit organizations, spouse's groups, chapels, individual contributions, and fundraising activities. 

The Friends of the Storks Nest recruits volunteers from all over the island to help with things like making home-cooked meals and baked goods for the residents. Volunteers also assist by providing transportation for patients and their families who come from other bases in the region. 

"[Sometimes] We get patients here at 2 a.m.," said Mrs. Michelle West, President of the Friends of the Storks Nest board. "We've got people who can't get out to facilities to get food because there is no commissary or BX on Camp Lester, so we provide those services to them." 

In the end, the effort required to keep the Stork's Nest running pales in comparison to the payoff for military members and their families who benefit from its services. 

"It's very rewarding" said Mrs. West. "It allows the families to stay together, and in most cases, the care that they receive allows them to go back to their duty station and continue to do the mission and the work that they were sent here to do. They can keep their families together and minimize the disruption that comes with such a stressful situation." 

Volunteers are a vital part of keeping the Storks Nest going, and The Friends of the Storks Nest board is always looking for people to help out in any way possible. To volunteer please contact the Storks Nest via email at storksnest@hotmail.com.