With the Fourth of July a day away, I’d like to pay tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services who serve and defend our nation, and the families who support them.
Honored to recognize Amelia, on the right, as 2018 National Winner of BGCA's ImageMakers Photography program during my visit to NAS Sigonella.
Each year, I visit BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on domestic and overseas U.S. military installations. Recently, I spent time at Naval Station Rota
in Spain and Naval Air Station Sigonella
in Italy. My discussions with Youth Center staff and military personnel offered valuable knowledge to sustain, and even improve, how we support them.
Since 1991, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Department of Defense have worked in union to serve military youth and their families. These kids deal with multiple ongoing challenges, like family separations due to the deployment of a parent. Frequent moves are also common, with military-connected youth moving an average of nine times between kindergarten and twelfth grade.
My new friend Alwen filled me in about stick bugs at the NS Rota School Age Care facility.
Youth Centers help members build resilience and character to surmount such challenges, and provide them with access to Boys & Girls Club programming and activities. With extracurricular pursuits usually limited to on-installation offerings, kids often rely on Youth Centers for after-school activities.
This trip left me feeling inspired. There’s such positive energy at the command level for our partnership, with senior military staff expressing gratitude for the support we offer children and teens. As a Movement, we can be proud of the small yet critical contributions we are making to support our military families. Happy Independence Day, everyone.