FARMINGTON – UMaine Farmington’s computer specialist, John Rainville, recently received a certificate of appreciation from the Maine Maritime Academy as a member of the crew of the training ship State of Maine.

A ceremony was held at the request of Acting Maritime Administrator John Jamian to honor the ship’s crew in aiding relief efforts following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The ship provided emergency housing for relief workers in the New Orleans area and served more than 35,000 meals to guests during its 57-day tour of service.

Rainville, who has worked at the UMaine Farmington Computer Center since 1999, spent 77 days away from classes, his job and his wife to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

As information specialist, Rainville was responsible for computer services, Web pages, mail, news and running movies on the ship to bolster morale for those assisting with the aftermath of Katrina – mostly aid workers from FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Red Cross, the Coast Guard, the U.S. Army, ATF and the FBI.

Rainville’s responsibilities also included a full accounting of services provided aboard what he calls a big hotel that served the best meals in town. “When people are in a situation like in New Orleans, you need to give them the best that you have. After all, from a relief perspective, good food and safe shelter equal happy customers,” said Rainville. “Some may gasp when they hear we served lobster and prime rib, but in an emergency, the food and shelter you provide is the only morale booster available.”

Even after having been in the U.S. Army for 16 years and serving around the world, Rainville said his work aboard ship involved a readjustment to the ebbs and flows of military life, which he called strict and conservative.

“Working in academia allowed me to think freely and to evaluate and experience a myriad of philosophical approaches to life which I find very liberating,” said Rainville.

Rainville said that he was encouraged by the relief efforts in New Orleans and glad he could be a part of it. “I’m humbled that I could help in New Orleans and thankful to UMaine Farmington for allowing me to be a part of the relief effort,” he said. Rainville returned home on Nov. 22 and returned to UMaine Farmington on Dec. 5.

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