HONOLULU, Hawaii - The commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific visited the Halsey Terrace military housing community near Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) July 30 to raise awareness of back-to-school safety issues.
Rear Adm. Frank Ponds along with Navy Region Hawaii's Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Marc Sibal were also there in support of Kelly Boyd, president of the Aliamanu Elementary Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), who is recruiting parent volunteers.
"Another resident and I brought up our concerns at a community advisory board meeting about Securitas (a private security firm) not providing crossing guards," Boyd said.
"We hoped for Navy participation and assistance," Boyd said. "Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, and we all understand why, they aren't able to provide a dedicated persona as a crossing guard, so we need parent volunteers."
Resources are not available to fund crossing guards in housing areas. Ponds hopes to raise interest and awareness of the need for volunteers to step forward and help.
"We need every parent to get involved. I encourage you to answer the call for volunteers, ask how you can help, and pitch in where you can. We're counting on you," Ponds said.
"Our Navy has stated that people are the most valuable resource. As parents, I am sure we can agree that our most precious resource is our children. We at Navy Region Hawaii are committed to doing everything we can in ensuring the welfare and the safety of our children," Ponds said. "Please join us in this commitment. Get involved, please."
Boyd said parents are already contacting her because of the awareness campaign by leaders like Ponds, Sibal, JBPHH Commander Capt. Jeff James, JBPHH Command Master Chief (SW) Brian Ortega, among others.
"I really appreciate their support," Boyd said. "It's been amazing. The master chiefs and senior chiefs are getting the word out to enlisted families. They did more than I could ever do at the PTA to get the work out to parents."
Individuals can help as crossing guards or in other ways.
"Every parent can help the school or the PTA as a volunteer in their community," said Sibal. "Every person can help ensure the safety of our children who are walking to and from school or to their bus stops every day. Drivers need to be aware of speed limits and obey the rules of the road."
Boyd invites parents to collaborate on this and other issues that affect their community. Collaboration is the "T" in the movement called VEST: Vigilance (watch), Engagement (get involved), Speed (call 911 immediately) and Together (working as one community).
"If we want our community to be safer we need to be out there," she said. "We need more personal responsibility."
"Everybody wants a neighborhood watch, but we need volunteers to make it work."
Navy Region Hawaii and the Forest City housing team will work with residents and the Honolulu Police Department to arrange for, set up, resource and train a neighborhood watch program.