SCI's Mariner Wellness Center

Aug 12, 2008

The Future of Fitness for Seafarers Visiting the Port of Newark

In a 2005 report by the International Sports Committee for Seafarers (ISS), a sub-committee of the International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare, Jörg Pfautsch lays out the importance of seafarers clubs and sports facilities to the industry.  The benefits he outlines are both health-related and cultural.  “Sport activities are good for the physical condition and fitness. Seafarers become prepared to cope with emergencies and stressed situations on board.”  Also, reports Pfautsch, a fit seafarer understands different nationalities when he or she comes to an international center to work out with others, and when playing sports together as a crew, he or she builds teamwork on the ship.

The Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) offers opportunity for seafarers to relax and gather while visiting the Port of Newark with its International Seafarers’ Center.  Currently under renovation and set to open in 2009, the new Center will house a modern Wellness Center equipped with state-of-the-art technology and accommodations.  Starr Marine Foundation has made a gift to SCI of $500,000 to help underwrite the costs of this new facility.

“Getting off the ship can be rare for a seafarer,” says David Rider, President and Executive Director of SCI.  “When a man or a woman is able to come to us, one of the best ways we have to assist them is by offering them hospitality.  It makes them feel human.  It connects and revives their spirits.”  

The new Wellness Center at the International Seafarers’ Center in Port Newark will span two generous locations.  The interior space masters a quarter of the footprint of the first floor.  It will house free-weight and cardiovascular equipment, along with new showers and changing rooms.  This well-apportioned space will provide a bright, set aside place to exercise.  This indoor space will combine with an outdoor portion to provide an unparalleled facility compared with any current offering to visitors of the Port.

In a sea of concrete that is the Port of Newark, SCI offers a break.  A peaceful plot—the only grassy area of land in the Port—will be home to a soccer field with a running track.  Adjacent to that track: basketball courts and picnic tables.  All combine to form a neighborhood center populated by a global community.  

“We want mariners who visit the center to feel like they have the best of shore side care and generosity offered to them,” remarks the Executive Director of SCI.  Rider feels that providing a welcome respite from the rigors of the job means a win-win.  “It gives us, their hosts, a chance to connect and get to know seafarers, and it gives the seafarers a chance to feel relaxed and connect with us.”

Rider says, “It is SCI’s mission to welcome the visiting mariner to our land.  These visitors are the backbone of commerce, working weeks upon end without the sight of family or friends.  It is an imperative of our chaplaincy to make sure that these hard-working men and women are ministered to and treated with care.  SCI greatly appreciates the generosity and partnership of The Starr Foundation in making this vision a reality.”

To help fund this project, including the Wellness Center, click Donate to SCI in the menu above, and “give a spot” to SCI and its mission to seafarers.