KHALIFA BIN SALMAN PIER, Bahrain
- Sailors deployed aboard guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) are connecting with their loved ones in a unique way—by recording themselves reading a book.
Port Royal Sailors are participating in United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization promoting the read aloud experience for separated families. It offers deployed parents the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children which creates positive emotional connections and cultivates a love of reading.
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Roberto Orona introduced Port Royal to the program, after learning about the program at a previous command; he suggested it to Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Tiara Adams. Adams and Port Royal’s chaplain, Lt. Shawn Osborne, contacted the organization and established the United Through Reading program aboard the ship.
“We’ve had a lot more people participate than I ever expected,” said Adams. “We’ve had 20-30 people participate every time, and there’s always a waiting list, too.”
United Through Reading is an easy program to connect loved ones, especially during the holiday season. A Sailor signs up, chooses a book donated by the organization, uses a web camera to record themselves reading the book, and mails the DVD recording to his or her family.
“My favorite part about the program is hearing my son’s reaction when he’s watching the video,” said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Namon Richardson, a regular participant of the program. “He’s 19-months-old and really likes to have someone read to him. It gives him opportunities to connect with me every time he watches it.”
Adams wants to help her shipmates stay connected with their families, and provide support to the ship; United Through Reading Program seemed like the best way.
“My favorite part is hearing from the members after their family has received their DVD. It makes me feel like I’m really doing something good for the crew,” said Adams.
The program goal is to unite families who face physical separation while one or more parent is deployed, while connecting families and serving as an excellent educational tool.
Port Royal, a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based ship, is independently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation in support of Operation New Dawn.