Bay Area Center "Home Away From Home"

Dec 3, 2009

by Adrienne L. Yee, Bay Area Development Coordinator

Each day is truly a gift, and what a gift it was for me to witness a family wrapping a single day’s joy in their hearts with memories to last a lifetime!

September 10, 2009, began as a typical day at The International Maritime Center.

As late afternoon approached, Bob and Faye Pessoa came to the Center requesting visitor’s passes to board a vessel due to arrive in the early evening. I informed them that, unless they had secured special permission to board the vessel, their request would most likely not be possible. After chatting further, I learned they were hoping to visit their nephew, Arthuro Ubas, an Oiler on the MSC Busan. This was their third attempt in 10 years to see him, being unsuccessful when the ship called twice before into the Port of Oakland. On the first attempt, Arthuro was unable to go ashore due to time constraints. On the second attempt, Arthuro’s shore pass was in his pant’s pocket that went through the wash.

Both times, the Pessoas had driven from their home in Santa Clara, CA (an hour’s drive) only to catch a glimpse of the ship in their rearview mirror as they turned right around to head back home. So, on this day of their 3rd attempt, I invited them to stay and wait at the Center until Arthuro was allowed to disembark.

The next morning I learned from a volunteer who worked the night before that the MSC Busan had stayed out at anchor all night long.  Again, the Pessoas drove home that night without seeing Arthuro. I quickly looked at the Marine Exchange List of ships arriving that day and saw that the MSC Busan had finally docked at 0500 hours! With excitement, I called the Pessoas with the good news, and coincidentally, Arthuro had just phoned them to say that he was now allowed to go ashore. Once again, the Pessoas were on their way, making the 50-mile trek with high hopes to finally see their nephew.

The Terminal Operator called and asked that we pick up one crewmember, and I thought to myself, “This has to be Arthuro!” Sure enough, it was! During the short drive back to the Center, he and I recounted the previous day’s events of his aunt and uncle’s attempt to visit him for the third time. Excitement and anxiety filled the air, and I think I was more nervous than he.  

Faye and Bob finally arrived, and what a joyous reunion it was! Screams of joy and excitement and endless hugs filled the Center. Tears welled up in my eyes as I witnessed this family reuniting on their fourth attempt. It was truly a blessing to be a part of this reunion, and to say that it all happened at our Center that we call, “home away from home!”