Seafarers' House launches $4.5 million campaign for new facility

The following is text of a news release from Seafarers' House:

(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades has launched the public phase of its “Place of Welcome” campaign to build a new home for the mariners who visit the port. The announcement was made at its annual Golden Compass Gala on May 19, honoring Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, who announced that the cruise line is committing $500,000 to the campaign.

The three-year, $4.5 million fundraising effort will allow Seafarers’ House to build a new facility, as well as provide a way to sustain the operations of programs and services offered to meet the ever-expanding needs of mariners who visit the port. Currently, the port hosts more than 4,000 ship calls each year.

“Seafarers’ House is a special place for all mariners and we thank them for extending their hospitality to our crew during their time at sea,” said Bayley. “We are especially delighted to support Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades’ whose new facility will serve so many of our crewmembers while calling at Fort Lauderdale.”

The new 15,000-square-foot building will be constructed on an expanded footprint at the same location as the existing building inside Port Everglades. It will allow for the consolidation of administration and operations under one roof, offering a facility that provides for the emotional, physical and spiritual wellness of seafarers.

“For 26 years, Seafarers’ House has operated out of temporary structures that have long since outlived their life span and are inadequate to address the needs of today's maritime community,” said Executive Director Lesley Warrick. “Thanks to this generous gift from Royal Caribbean, as well as other longtime supporters, we are on our way to realizing a decades-old dream.”

Several other organizations also have stepped up with lead gifts including Carnival Cruise Lines; Cliff Berry Inc.; Holland America Line; Princess Cruises; SEACOR Holdings Inc.; The ITF Seafarers’ Trust; and The TK Foundation.

Seafarers’ House welcomes nearly 150,000 mariners annually, providing them with practical resources, emergency assistance and access to faith-based counseling and services and resources 365 days a year.

“Seafarers' House plays an integral role in the safety and care of the human resource behind this great economic engine and it is imperative that we grow to meet the needs. This world-class port deserves a world-class seafarers' center,” said board President Eugene “Gene” Sweeney.

The new campus will include:

• A meditation garden where mariners can relax and enjoy the outdoors;

• Expanded recreation areas to improve overall health and wellness;

• An improved experience shopping for essential personal items;

• Space for training, meetings, and professional development;

• A cafe with indoor and outdoor seating so visitors can enjoy a hot meal with friends.

Seafarers’ House also will continue to offer wire transfer services, free WiFi, and a chapel for multidenominational services, but in a newly upgraded setting.

“With a refreshed, revitalized center, we will be much better positioned to make visitors feel welcome and offer them the respite from work that they need, as well as a place of community inside the port,” said Warrick.

Seafarers’ House anticipates groundbreaking to commence mid-year 2019. Keith & Associates Inc. is donating site planning and engineering services, and Merrill Romanik of Synalovski Romanik Saye is the architect.

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By Professional Mariner Staff