Seabees partner with Bulgarians in renovating kindergarten

SLIVEN, Bulgaria — Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 Seabees recently renovated a kindergarten here as part as the annual Joint Task Force-East exercise.

Working with their Bulgarian counterparts, Seabees display their construction skills participating in humanitarian civic action programs promoting positive relations with the partner-nation military community.

As part of the project, the Seabees replaced tile flooring, sinks and plumbing in the Zdravets Kindergarten. The crew also tore out all of the old vinyl flooring and replaced it with tile. In addition, they demolished two concrete sinks in the school's kitchen and replaced them with new stainless steel sinks, and painted and grouted the floors and walls.

"This has been a great experience for us," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory Cote, the project manager. "All the teachers and parents were very supportive and helpful."

Cote said this mission was one of the most rewarding for him on a personal level.

"It was wonderful to help the kids make their school better," he said.

In addition to giving the school a fresh new look, the Seabees also took time out to play with the children and make many new friends. One such goodwill ambassador was Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy Shannon.

"Jeremy has become like a son to me and most of the ladies here," said Maria Deneva, a staff member at the school. "He was so nice and sweet to us."

"The boys worked very hard and sometimes late into the night," Deneva said, "but they always had time to laugh and talk with us."

Deneva, who is lovingly called "Mimi" by Shannon, said she and her fellow coworkers have nothing but respect for Shannon and his fellow Seabees, and they will be sad to see them leave.

"We love them all like our kids," Deneva said. "We will always have nice memories of our American sons."

Shannon said the project is something he will always remember.

"This was a wonderful place to get away to," Shannon said. "It was nice to take a 15-minute break and just go play with the kids."

The children of Zdravets expressed their thanks to the Seabees through song and dance during a ribbon cutting ceremony.

During the ceremony, they sang about their beloved Sliven and shared a taste of Bulgarian culture by performing some traditional dances.

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