Life for a Coast Guard machinery technician (MK) aboard an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Miami Beach is demanding enough, but Petty Officer Third Class Daniel Vega, an MK stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dolphin, is going above and beyond his already hectic schedule.
When he’s not underway catching drug runners and migrant smugglers, Vega, who graduated from South Miami Senior High, Class of 2007, spends his time helping those in need. He is the vice president and co-founder of the non-profit organization Qyyum Sisters Shine-A-Light.
Vega and his girlfriend, Jasmin, both 21, along with her sisters Soraya, 18, and Sammie, 16, started the foundation to be of service to those who are less fortunate. Their first project was to help a girls’ orphanage and a mental asylum in the Colombian capital of Bogota by collecting a variety of goods, including clothes, educational toys, school supplies and financial donations.
The financial donations are crucial because they will go toward shipping costs. They’re also accepting empty plastic bottles and aluminum cans, for which recycling centers pay.
“Everybody deserves a chance,” Vega said. “Everybody deserves to have some good luck in their life. Everybody deserves an opportunity to better themselves and to just be able to live happy.”
Vega and the Qyyum sisters are collecting goods until Nov. 15. From Nov. 24 to 28, they’ll travel to Colombia, a trip funded by donations and personal savings. Jasmin’s family in Colombia will help distribute the donations to the orphanage and the asylum.
Vega, a Miami Beach native, will use earned time off from work for the voyage. But they’re not stopping there — a charity drive focused on Bangladesh already is in the works for the future.
In fact, the Qyyum Sisters Shine-A-Light organization is named for Jasmin’s father, Mohammed Qyyum, who was born in Bangladesh. He died from lymphoma on July 21, 2007, just two days after Vega left for boot camp at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, NJ.
“He was always helping out everybody that he could,” said Vega. “He brought [his daughters] up to always do good and help out the less fortunate.”
Vega follows that tradition of helping others while remaining devoted to duty within the Coast Guard.
“He’s definitely a stand-up guy,” said Ltjg Kenneth Franklin, commanding officer of the cutter Dolphin. “He’s always trying to do the right thing, and this is one of those instances.”
Franklin, a native of Buffalo, NY, took command of the Dolphin July 28 and has since gotten to know Vega.
“On the job, as an MK, he has to figure out what has to be done, what needs to be tightened, what pumps need replacing,” Franklin said. “But with this, it’s engrained in him that the right thing is to get down there and help people in need and give back.”
To find out how to help, call 786-493-2450.