Dr. Mike Walter – successful businessman, educator and former LB Port Commissioner – was honored recently by the International Seafarers Center for his contributions to the maritime industry. You would be challenged to find a better friend, mentor or all-around good guy than Dr. Walter. It was a fitting tribute.
The event honoring Dr. Walter also served as a reminder of the important role the International Seafarers Center play in our local ports. The Centers are often the only organizations reaching out to the thousands of ship crew providing them with transportation, recreation, spiritual outreach (for many different faiths), mail, Internet, telephone services, and much more.
The people who work on ships are at sea or in foreign ports, away from home often for weeks at a time and largely disconnected from family. It’s a hard job. Their important work is invisible to the general public, and their work place isolated from the rest of the world. But without seafarers there would be no shipping.
Often a Seafarers Center provides a safe and caring place for them when they are in port. It may be help with an emergency back home, counseling when needed, or just a sympathetic person to talk to. Whether it is the International Seafarers Center of LB/LA, the International Seafarers Center at the Port of Oakland, the Catholic Seafarers Center in Seattle or the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, these valuable institutions (among others) provide much needed care and assistance to those that work onboard vessels.
The recession has been tough on everyone in the maritime industry, including the Seafarer Centers. The centers manage with lots of volunteer help and donations. Dr. Walter’s work and life example should serve as an inspiration to all of us that we can do more. Please consider making a contribution to your local Seafarers Center.
For more information or to make a contribution to these nonprofit organizations, you can contact them at:
International Seafarers Center of Long Beach and Los Angeles, (562) 432-7560
The Catholic Seafarers’ Center of Seattle, http://www.catholicseafarercenter.org/
Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, http://www.seamenschurch.org/