COAST GUARD PUTS ANOTHER LOG ON THE FIRE

The U.S Coast Guard’s motto, “semper paratus,” means always being ready. That means being ready no matter what the role — search and rescue, homeland security, enforcement of maritime laws, protection of the marine environment or maintaining waterways and aids to navigation.
Beginning in 1999, Coast Guard personnel stationed in Homer aboard the CGC Roanoke Island applied the motto through service to the community and have continued that service by chopping firewood, selling it and using the proceeds to help community members in need.
This year, under the oversight of Lt. Sarah Geoffrion, supervisor of Marine Safety Detachment in Homer, the MSD crew is continuing the tradition.
In 1999, spruce bark beetle-killed trees were being turned into chips to be sold elsewhere. The action was taking place on the Spit near the harbor where the CGC Roanoke Island was tied up.
“We saw an opportunity to do something good for the community,” said Chief Warrant Officer Dennis “Sully” Sullivan of a program the ship’s crew initiated with the Salvation Army. “There was a bunch of stuff in a scrap pile, we chopped it up and sold it for $100 a truck load, delivered.”
The money was used to sponsor two families selected by the Salvation Army.
“They gave us the ages and sex of the children and we would buy food, clothing, toys and everything for the families from the sale of the wood,” said Sullivan. “It was a lot of fun.”
By 2004, the effort had grown to include the crew on the CGC Hickory, as well as donations from local businesses.
“Such camaraderie and support throughout the year is a major reason why so many Coast Guardsmen keep asking for repeat assignments in Homer,” Lt. Commandeer Jay Boyer of the Hickory and Lt. Kevin King of the Roanoke Island wrote at the time.
In 2009, the woodcutting program raised $2,800. It was divided, with $1,800 going to two families identified by Share the Spirit and $1,000 used for a scholarship for a graduating high school senior.
This year, however, with both cutters assigned to Homer — the Hickory and the Roanoke Island — required to be out of port, it looked like the firewood program might not continue.
That’s unlikely, however, when you have an “always ready” frame of mind.
“Chief Michael Jones, who works with Coast Guard housing in town, said, ‘Let’s do this.’ He knew I was part of the group who started this project 13 years ago,” said Sullivan, who is now assigned to Marine Safety Detachment in Homer. “When I brought it to Lt. Geoffrion, she said this was something she’d like to support 100 percent.”
It isn’t about who does the work, be it MSD, the Hickory or the Roanoke Island, said Sullivan.
“It’s very important for us to do our part as Team Coast Guard,” he said. “We want to be part of the community and it’s part of our ‘semper paratus,’ always being ready. It fits.”
With wood scraps at the chip pad operation on the Spit a thing of the past, Dave Roderick of BST Milling on North Fork Road, stepped in with the needed wood.
“I’ve got a lumber mill and we had a pile of wood not spoken for, so I told them it have at it,” said Roderick.
“There are six of us at MSD and Chief Jones, we’re the ones cutting,” said Sullivan. “We worked last week and we’ll work until it’s done. We’re getting an enormous amount of wood. We’ll probably be delivering from 15-20 cords of wood.”
As in the past, sales of the wood will benefit Share the Spirit.
“We sell the wood, but the checks are made out to Share the Spirit,” said Sullivan. “We cannot take any money from anyone because of legal mumbo jumbo, so we chop the wood, give (the proceeds) to Share the Spirit and they make the determination of the families that need a little help. It gives a little boost during holiday times depending on how much wood we cut and how much money we can raise.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

More in Community

Town Crier

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District requests input from staff, parents and… Continue reading

The Homer Police Station as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Cops and Courts

Information about fire, police and troopers is taken from public records consisting… Continue reading

May Fekete's portrait by Sarah Lewis is one of the photographs in the exhibit, "Pandemic Portraits," on display through Sept. 19, 2021, at Land's End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Lewis and Affinity Films)
Art briefs

‘Pandemic Portraits’ is at Land’s End Resort An exhibit by 15 photographers… Continue reading

Homer High School. (Homer News file photo)
School announcements

School district risk level update and upcoming events

The poster for "Summer of Soul," showing at the 17th annual Homer Documentary Film Festival. (Photo provided)
Roll ‘em: DocFest returns for 17th year

Homer Documentary Film Festival returns with COVID-19 precautions and a solid line up of films.

Mama Mona, Lakshmi, Georgia and Lil’ Stripe (Photo courtesy of Alaska Mindful Paws)
Pets of the week: Mama Mona, Lakshmi, Georgia and Lil’ Stripe

It’s been over two months and Mama Mona, Lakshmi, Georgia and Lil’… Continue reading

The Alaska Grown logo.
Homer Farmers Market: Don’t write off the market just yet

Late summer crops are coming in at the Homer Farmers Market.

Recover, the 18th annual Burning Basket, starts to burn on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, at Mariner Park on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Best Bets

The Burning Basket has been transformed into heat and light. In fields… Continue reading

The masthead for the Homer Weekly News.
Years Ago

Homer happenings from years past

Most Read