Parks & Rec. thanks Navy volunteers for their service

A group of Naval volunteers is making their mark on Moorestown.

By: Amy Filippone, Dept. of Parks & Recreation

We are all aware of the “Cornfield Cruiser” at Centerton and Hartford Roads on some level. We drive by it all the time, and it is like a beacon that immediately lets you know exactly where you are and that you’re home. We are fortunate to have it in many ways. This year, Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department has had the privilege of working with a team of volunteers coordinated through the United States Navy stationed at the Combat System Engineering Development Site (CSEDS).

Under the leadership of Operations Specialist First Class Jordan Johnston, Command Volunteer Coordinator, they have been working quietly away enhancing our park system for the past eight months. The CSEDS volunteer program has always been in place, Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department has just had the recent good fortune to be on the receiving end of their community outreach.

“It’s awesome here. We really enjoy doing projects for the Rec. It gets us off the base and out into the community,” Johnston said. “We have been doing a project about once a month, and it’s something fun to do that is having an impact. Without all those guys volunteering, it wouldn’t happen. It’s an amazing group of personnel that we have here.”

There are approximately 35 sailors stationed at CSEDS for three-year assignments. Many live at Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst or in surrounding towns. They come from all over the country and even with full schedules they find time and enjoyment in contributing to Moorestown.

Back in January, they painted the bathrooms at Maple Dawson Park. In February, they painted the inside of the New Albany Recreation Center. In April, they cleaned up trash at Wesley Bishop Park. In June, they painted the basement at the Church Street Recreation Center. In July, they gave a major facelift to the entrance of the playground at Fullerton Park where they cleared the area around the picnic tables, raked up the turf covered in twigs and completely mulched throughout and painted both the bathrooms. Certainly not glamorous or high-profile jobs but done with skill, efficiency and graciousness.

When I say skill and efficiency, it is a giant understatement. These are trained sailors with a whole host of backgrounds and skills.

Johnston said they send out an email to all command personnel and get around 10 to 15 volunteers. Many of these volunteers have landscaping and painting backgrounds.

“We all paint all the time on the ships. When you’re on your way back from sea duty — you’re preserving that ship,” Johnston said. “You’re busting that rust down, sanding, putting primer on it and painting it. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent painting on a ship — on ladders, with harnesses.”

There is such a grace and humility from these young sailors, it really makes one pause and reflect. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting OS1 Jordan Johnston you’ll understand.

“ We don’t branch out too much with other volunteer projects because I’d rather make just one big impact,” Johnston said. “If you do something with one specific entity like the Parks & Rec Department, it’s great because you can see the impact on all the parks.”

We are thankful for their contribution to our community and to their service for our country. They’ll be back in action on Aug. 16t at John Pryor Field. Stop by and say thanks.