Six years after opening its doors offering respite recreational programs and activities for the junior enlisted ranks, the Liberty Center held an anniversary celebration with outdoor games, free food and a raffle at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) June 26.
JBAB Liberty Center, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) quality of life program housed at JBAB’s Enterprise Hall, targets unaccompanied enlisted personnel from E-1 to E-6. Its main focus is on the 18-26 year-old service members.
On the grounds of Furnari Hall, home to the Navy Ceremonial Guard at JBAB, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Soldiers competed in Sumo wrestling, bungee basketball and inflatable activities set up by the Liberty Center. The food served included barbecue chicken and ribs with cornbread and vegetables.
“We are celebrating the opening of the Liberty Center. We are in our sixth year and this event is a reward to the service members who come here and use our services,” said Liberty Center Assistant Manager Chelton Wynter.
“This is our way of saying thank you. We depend on how often people use us to stay open,” he said.
Navy Ceremonial Guard members Seamen Joshua Taione and Abdoul Adjanakrou spend time at the Liberty Center after the duty day. They appreciated the event and expressed excitement about the outdoor activities.
“It’s a nice way to relax,” Taione said.
Adjanakrou agreed. “I just came from a two-hour workout and I was tired, but I said let me see what’s going over here,” he said.
Both Sailors go to the Liberty Center to play soccer video games.
“I like the Liberty Center. I go there often to play Joshua [Taione] in [Federation Internationale de Football Association] FIFA every single day,” Adjanakrou said.
“We play FIFA every time we are in there, but now since it’s the FIFA World Cup, we are also in there to watch the soccer games too,” Taione said.
Navy Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Third Class James Brightwell also enjoyed the outdoor event.
“This is a great idea, a great way to get everybody out of the barracks and out having some fun,”Brightwell said.
He said he wished the event had been marketed better to attract more people.
Marines at the celebration paid special attention to the inflatable with multiple obstacles at the event.
“I am having a lot fun out here today. I especially like the inflatable Boot Camp Challenge obstacle course,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Jorge Gonzales-Acosta, a motor transportation driver with the 2nd Civil Affairs Group (CAG) at JBAB.
Gonzales-Acosta has been at JBAB for three years and said he enjoys the scenery at the installation.
“I like the view when I go running in the morning,” he said.
Marine Lance Cpl. Keith Deras, a field operator with the 2nd CAG, lost his footing when the bungee cord he had been attached to yanked him backward plunging him into the soft inflatable floor.
“This is interesting. We’ve been playing some snatch grab [bungee basketball] and that was fun,” he said.
Like Gonzales-Acosta, Deras has been on JBAB for three years.
Liberty Center recognizes its anniversary and its customers who utilize its services every year just before the Independence Day celebration, according to Wynter.
“Participation at the center goes up and down. The Navy Ceremonial Guard increases in size around the [presidential] inauguration years. During those years our numbers at the center are very high. But that eventually changes as personnel move out and go to a different duty station. Then those numbers start to go down,” he said.
Wynter called working at the center his dream job because his customers sincerely appreciate what he and other staff members provide for them.
“Doing this work is very rewarding for me because they truly appreciate it. They really work hard, especially, the Ceremonial Guard who perform at different ceremonies and funerals. They are basically the face of the Navy and the Air Force, because we have some from the Air Force Honor Guard here too,” Wynter said.
“You hear a lot of thank yous here and you know they really appreciate what we are doing. It makes my job very rewarding,” he said.
The Liberty Center offers visitors flat screens televisions, video game systems, board games and other activities.
For more information about the Liberty Center, visit building 72, room 125, or call 202-433-2636.