Warm Coats for International Seafarers

Dec 17, 2008

Imagine having travelled thousands of miles and arriving at your destination only to find that you had packed the wrong clothes entirely. That is exactly what it is like for many seafarers arriving from warmer climates into New York’s blustery harbor during the winter months. Thanks to a donation of 500 coats from the non-profit organization Jersey Cares, international mariners will be able to do their important jobs and perhaps even take leave of their vessels while in Port for some rest and recreation.

Millions of tons of goods come from around the world to the busy Port in New Jersey every year. Large container ships carry these items, many of them originating from warmer climes—places like South East Asia and Africa. For some of these international travelers, New York offers the first glimpse of snow.

Chaplains from the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) greet the vessels that arrive from around the world and offer them welcome and care. Janet Temchus, Receptionist at the Seamen’s Church Institute’s International Seafarers’ Center in Port Newark, said, “Yesterday I was wishing I had the coats all ready, because a ship came in just as it started snowing.” Temchus recounts that the seafarers were dressed in apparel inadequate for the weather and conditions in the tri-state area. Fortunately, she says, the ship will be in the Port for few days, so SCI Chaplains will be able to deliver coats to them before they leave.

Sherry Fazio, Director of External Affairs at Jersey Cares, spoke with SCI earlier this afternoon about the program, now in its thirteenth year of operation. Each year, Jersey Cares coordinates the collection of nearly 30,000 coats from agencies throughout the State of New Jersey. “It is a great display of community partnership,” she said.

It is the community partnership of the participating collection sites and organizations that helps keep hundreds of mariners warm while working hard in the Port during the holidays. SCI’s Janet Temchus said, “The coats are so appreciated by each and every one of the seafarers, and they go as fast as we get them.”

“That’s just wonderful,” replied Fazio of Jersey Cares. “We are so glad that these coats are given to people who need them.”

The Rev. David Rider, President and Executive Director of SCI, agrees that teamwork—partnerships with churches, individuals, organizations, and companies—is what makes programs like SCI and Jersey Cares work with tremendous results. “When we work together,” he says, “we can really make a positive difference. The coats provide a warm example of the radical hospitality we seek to provide seafarers year round.”

Thanks to the organization of Jersey Cares, Rider sees an example of the “positive difference” that people from the state of New Jersey can make in the lives of seafarers. “I look forward to successful partnerships with many others as we continue our historic mission of service to the maritime community.”