One of the Coast Guard Foundation's top priorities in the coming year is building a family recreation center for Coast Guard members and their families stationed in and around Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, which is home to eight different Coast Guard units, consisting of 600 active duty, reserve and civilian employees plus their families. The town is located in the far northern reaches of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and endures long, cold winters that average more than 13 feet of snowfall annually, making the deployment an especially challenging one for those stationed there.
The majority of the active duty members stationed in Sault Ste. Marie live in a 60-unit Coast Guard housing area that was built 15 years ago. The original plans for that project contained a pavilion and picnic area that had to be scrapped due to budgetary concerns. Since then, the Coast Guard has drawn up plans for an all-inclusive indoor recreation area that would serve as a safe place for the families there to enjoy themselves and build a community during the long Michigan winters.
The Cutter Mackinaw passes through the Soo Lock to begin spring ice-breaking.
Our goal is to raise $300,000 for a family recreation center at Sault Ste. Marie; we have currently raised $265,000. We have also launched a commemorative buy-a-brick campaign that will allow individuals to leave their mark on the project. The designs call for a 4,000 square-foot building with a workout room, an activities room and an outdoor deck. If you'd like to purchase a brick, follow this link.
The Coast Guard Foundation has a long history of funding major projects that benefit Coast Guard communities throughout the country. The Foundation has funded family recreation centers in Dauphin Island, Alabama and Valdez, Alaska, as well as a swimming pool in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and a state-of-the-art athletic track at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
The recreation center at Sault Ste. Marie will instill a strong feeling of community, as well as build esprit-de-corps among the eight units based there. Coast Guard civil engineers have construction drawings finished, and the community center has strong support among personnel in Sault Ste. Marie.
"I believe a community center out in housing would be a great thing for the enlisted members and their families. It would give them places to host events and birthdays and would also give us a new place to work out with newer equipment. I truly believe that if we had one it would be a great thing and put to great use," said one enlisted Coast Guard member stationed in Sault Ste. Marie.
Sector Sault Sainte Marie is responsible for all Coast Guard missions on Lake Superior and Northern Lakes Michigan and Huron, including surrounding navigable waterways, search and rescue, law enforcement, aids to navigation, marine safety, and homeland security. Located on the St. Mary's River in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, the Sector includes eight multi-mission small boat stations, one marine safety unit, two aids to navigation teams, and four Coast Guard cutters.
"The community center will be a huge positive boost for the active duty members and dependents overall wellbeing. Having this facility available for social functions, members' physical wellness and educational activities in addition to the close proximity to the CG housing will ensure its use," said Lt. Commander stationed at the Sector.