Civic Engagement (CE) Projects (to include Humanitarian assistance projects) are implemented within the framework of the U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) CE Program. The CE Program provides assistance in the form of project development, procurement and execution of basic humanitarian projects, i.e., reconstruction and renovation works at various public entities such as orphanages, senior citizen centers or fire and rescue stations and emergency medical centers.
In 2009 the EUCOM CE Program funded 151 projects in 19 different countries. These projects included school renovations in Estonia, water well projects in Serbia, and the building of a fire/rescue station in Moldova.
In 2009 ODC Latvia executed 3 projects: Reconstruction of a Youth and Children Home "Vabolite" in Daugavpils region; Installation of Stair Lift at Kalkuni Orphanage in Daugavpils, Replacement of Floors at Balvi Senior Citizen’s Home, as well as initiated work on submission of country-wide reconstruction projects at State Fire and Rescue Stations. Two projects started in 2009 are currently in the process to be finished: Renovation of Limbazi and Madona Fire and Rescue Service Stations. 8 more stations will receive the needed help within the next year.
ODC Latvia coordinates with the Latvian government in identifying and developing the projects, submits them for approval to the US European Command and works with the US Army Corps of Engineers and local contractors during the execution of the project. These projects demonstrate the close cooperation between our two governments and militaries and bring the benefit of this relationship to citizens of Latvia. The far-reaching effect of the program, touching areas outside the capital city, promotes U.S. goodwill to traditionally hard-to-reach areas. Several of the projects have been in the eastern part of Latvia, which has a large ethnic minority population.
Taking into consideration the fact that the project approval and implementation is a rather time-consuming process, project implementation may take up to almost a year. There are cities such as Rēzekne, Jelgava, Kuldīga, Skrunda and others that are still waiting for their projects to be approved and implemented. Successful project completion depends heavily on the assisted organization’s initiative and cooperation because of the administrative and legal requirements for the projects to comply with existing US and Latvian laws and regulations.
- In September 2008, the US Ambassador to Latvia and the ODC office officially opened a sports field at the Priedite Orphanage in Daugavpils in order to provide the orphanage children with a safe place to play various types of sports, such as basketball, volleyball and tennis. The 34th Artillery Battalion (National Guard) assisted with the project implementation. (Project costs: $45,000.)
- On January 9, 2009, the US Ambassador to Latvia and the ODC office officially opened the reconstructed Children and Youth Center “Vabolīte” in Daugavpils region. The center provides family-like environment for children who are left without parental care. (Project costs: $276,000.00)
- On May 21, 2009, the ODC officially opened the Stair lift project at the Kalkuni Children’s Home in Daugavpils. This facility has 135 children with disabilities from infants up to age 18. The installation of the stair lift provided a much needed means for the Kalkuni staff to move the children between floors and outside. Previously, the staff had to physically carry the children and wheel chairs up and down the stairs multiple times a day. In 2008 ODC worked on another project at the same facility – renovation of household elevator (Costs of both projects: $38,600).
- On May 26, 2010. – U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber visited Ventspils to participate in the opening of a fire tower at the Ventspils Fire and Rescue Service Station, which has been reconstructed by the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion (known as SeaBees) in connection with the military exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010. The sailors helped with refurbishment of the Fire Training Tower of Ventspils Fire and Rescue Service, removing the old wood and reinforcing the frame. (Project costs: $15,400).
- On June 14, 2010 the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation and a U.S. Navy Construction Battalion officially opened two renovation projects in western Latvia. The Ventspils Orphanage "Selga" received two new bathrooms and the Liepaja 8th High School received a refurbished auditorium. These projects were executed as part of the military exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010. Thirty sailors from a U.S. Navy Construction Battalion, called Seabees, teamed up with Latvian contractors to complete both projects (Costs of both projects: $37,850). In addition, a group of U.S. sailors and Marines participating in the exercise helped out at Liepaja’s Jurmala Park by repainting parts of the playground.
- On December 10, 2010 U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber visited Liepaja where she participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Children and Youth Center, which received extensive renovation of the common access areas. The Liepāja Children and Youth Center has an important mission – to contribute to the personal and professional development of young people. The total value of the renovation at the Children and Youth Center is 165,000 USD.
- On May 17, 2011 the U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, Judith Garber,
participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the SFRS Madona Division,
one of the first fire stations to receive funding under the program. "It
was such a pleasure to participate in the ribbon-cutting in Madona.
These projects enhance the safety of the neighborhoods served by these
fire stations. They are such a wonderful example of U.S.-Latvian
collaboration!" The total value of Madona project is: 131,460.00 USD.
- On 12 January, 2012, Judy Garber, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia visited Skilbeni parish’s Social Care Home which had been recently renovated by the local municipality and included installation of a modern heating system funded by U.S. EUCOM Civic Engagement Program. After the renovation of an old, previously unused building the senior citizen's home was relocated from the previous location which was not suitable to house the increasing number of people and was not financially efficient. According to the Chairman of Vilaka council parish, Sergejs Maksimovs, the new modern heating system (ground source heat pump) saves significant amount of money spent on utilities. Total value of heating system installation was 106,297.68 USD (incl.VAT).
- On May 14, 2012 the U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, Judith Garber, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Fire and Rescue Station renovation project at the Gulbene Fire and Rescue Station. Ministry of Interior Deputy State Secretary Mr. Viktors Elksnis, Deputy State Fire and Rescue Chief Colonel Intars Zitāns, and Gulbene Mayor Mrs. Sandra Daudziņa, as well as USEUCOM representative Col Shawn Fritz also participated in the ceremony.
The fire station renovation includes installation of a new three-bay garage and replacement of existing garage doors, the ventilation system, the electrical system, and the roof. The total contract value is 477,180,68 USD.
“The Embassy’s contributions to these projects provide an opportunity to support and recognize the hard work and dedication of the courageous men and women who respond to complex and dangerous situations without regard for their own personal safety or well-being. We are proud to partner with them in this effort by helping build their capacity to respond to these situations more quickly and effectively,” Ambassador Garber said.
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