Chief Petty Officer Karl Little always finds not only one, but many ways to be involved in his community. For instance, he has been a coach for Special Olympics, working with developmentally disabled adults in the cities of Portsmouth and Chesapeake, for the past three years. He has coached many athletes to victory in several sports, among them soccer, basketball, and bowling. This alone is impressive, but his service to the Special Olympics does not end there.
None of the Special Olympics athletes that Little coaches are able to drive, and many live in families that have no easy access to transportation. Little began picking up athletes in his own car and graduated to driving a van to accommodate a growing number of athletes needig this service. In addition to coaching, he drives this regular route to make sure everyone is included. For the past three years, his evenings and weekends have been devoted to ensuring that the athletes are able to participate and go for the gold!
Little has also volunteered with the Employment Services Unit of Mental Retardation Services with the Community Service Board in Virginia Beach. He recruited a group of comrades from the Naval Base to build wheelchair ramps, initially through the United Way Day of Caring. When the group could not finish the ramps on this day, Little worked evenings on his own to finish the project. His work allowed at least one wheelchair user to leave the house to go to medical appointments and another to leave and use the Handi-ride to go to work.
In Portsmouth, Little recognized an athlete’s grandmother’s inability to watch her grandchild compete because she was unable to walk down the steps from her house to the yard. Again, Little rounded up volunteers, including his wife, Sherry, to build a ramp for the grandmother. His goal is now to build two ramps every month for others needing assistance in Portsmouth. He has started the process of implementing this initiative by gleaning donated materials for ramps from the City of Virginia Beach and meeting with building officials in Portsmouth to coordinate the ramp construction effort. Little has also built ramp for patients at Maryview Hospital Outpatient Dialysis Unit in Portsmouth.
Saint Mary’s Home for Disabled Children in Norfolk is another agency that has been a recipient of Little’s volunteer service. He has built toys that bolt onto wheelchairs for children’s access, created splints, supports, and positioning devices for children with physical disabilities, repaired wheelchairs, painted and cleaned toys, among other projects. Little used to dress in a friendly, green, dinosaur suit, on loan from a local store, and visit with and dance for the children at Saint Mary’s. He continues to volunteer for this organization every week.
During the workday, Little is a Chief on the staff of Surface Warfare Development Group at Little Creek, and is a second-generation Navy professional. He is also a committed husband and father. But, his evenings and weekends are filled with volunteer projects through which he touches people’s lives in a meaningful way.