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130827-N-QW737-060 SAN DIEGO (Aug. 27, 2013) - Chief (Select) Information Systems Technician PaulLabasan assigned to USS Makin Island (LHD 8) serves food at St. Vincent de Paul Village during a command sponsored Chief Petty Officer (CPO) 365: Phase II community relations (COMREL) event aimed at strengthening U.S. Navy and local community ties. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief (Select) Mass Communication Specialist (Select) Michael E. Wagoner/Released)
Makin Island CPO Selectees Volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul Village during CPO 365: Phase II Training 
By Chief (Select) Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Michael E. Wagoner, USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs 
SAN DIEGO – Eighteen newly selected chief petty officers and chief petty officers (CPO) assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and Amphibious Squadron FIVE (PHIBRON 5) attended a community relations (COMREL) event at St. Vincent de Paul Village, a partner of Father Joe’s Villages, to help clean and serve food, Aug. 27.

During CPO 365: Phase II, chief selectees reach out to local communities to give back and help strengthen U.S. Navy and community ties by participating in COMRELs and other fundraising events while completing required leadership training.

For some CPO selectees, volunteering for COMRELs can be a way to show junior Sailors positive examples of community involvement.

“The Navy needs to maintain good community relations,” said Chief (Select) Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling (AW) Mark Higginbottom, assigned to Makin Island. “And as CPO selectees, seeing as we’re going to be setting the example, and being model Sailors for all Sailors, that coming out and doing community relations is the first step in showing Sailors how to live their lives and how to be involved in the community.”

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), San Diego County has the third largest homeless population in the country.

“One of these days we could be unfortunate and be on the street,” said Manuel Hugo, program supervisor for St. Vincent de Paul Village kitchen. “St. Vincent de Paul Village is helping everybody. Most of the people coming in are coming from out of state. We would like everybody; the schools, the Navy, to help our organization. It’s a good thing.”
Makin Island Chief (Select) Electronics Technician (SW) Jose Martinez shared that COMRELs were a good way to bring both CPOs and selects together, build camaraderie and foster humility.

“It’s important to give back to the community and help the less fortunate and appreciate what you have in life,” said Martinez. “And don’t take what you have in life for granted. It’s humility and helps you realize that not everybody has it as good as you or somebody else.”

St. Vincent de Paul Village houses 887 interim and transitional housing beds and serves up to 4,000 meals daily. The mission of St. Vincent de Paul Village is to end homelessness one life at a time.

The CPO 365 training program was first launched in 2010 under then Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West. Current MCPON Michael D. Stevens revised the program for 2012-2013, amending course curriculum and reinforcing a year-round training schedule for all first class petty officers.

The ship is currently undergoing a planned maintenance availability (PMA) at Naval Base San Diego. During this 13-month PMA period, Makin Island will receive numerous equipment upgrades, modernization, and general repairs. The PMA period will also help to ensure the ship will reach the full service life of at least 40 years.
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