Seafarers' Voluntary Welfare Service Active in Port of Cleveland

Press Release
Friday, April 05, 2013

The Port of Cleveland is a particularly welcoming destination for foreign crews, enhanced by the Cleveland Seaman's Service.

In his CEO's port stakeholders' letter, Will Friedman draws attention to the organization, now almost half-a-century old, whose volunteers provide services and hospitality for crews. Over the years they have done everything from serving as hospital translators for sick crew members to helping seamen talk to their families in far off countries via WiFi and Skype.

Started in 1964, Cleveland Seamen’s Service has serviced about 200,000 crew members from at least 40 countries. With the increase in cargo activity at our Port, the service needs more people to join.

This is the kind of organization that leaves both seamen and volunteers alike with unforgettable memories and new friendships. When we asked for examples, Seamen’s Service President Jim Clark and several members provided a bundle:

    •    A volunteer helped a Greek captain locate and pick up a portable x-ray machine for a doctor friend in Athens. The machine then made the voyage with the ship back to Greece.
    •    During a particularly bitter December, a freezing Filipino crew asked where they could get warm clothes for the balance of their voyage. Volunteers took them to a second-hand store where they bought enough inexpensive and warm clothing for the entire crew.
    •    A crew member whose grandfather was a clergyman in Russia wanted to visit an Orthodox church. A volunteer drove him around to numerous churches until finding one that suited the man’s needs – and in the process the two became friends.
    •    Volunteers took seven Japanese sailors, none of whom spoke English, to a Japanese exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  The crew members were particularly enchanted by one painting of a scene they recognized.

Seamen’s Service needs more volunteers to provide services, hospitality and lasting Cleveland memories for the crews who navigate cargo vessels around the world.


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