EL PASO, Texas - Soldiers from the 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso Oct. 30 to replace shelving units, prepare the club for the Halloween festival and tutor the children as part of the unit’s community outreach program.
“We started a community outreach program, where we are going to try at least once a quarter to volunteer in the community,” said Maj. Mark P. Miller, 16th MPAD commander. “We chose the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso for two reasons: they are available to everyone in the community free of charge and one of our NCOs, Staff Sgt. (Alejandro) Briceno, is on the board of directors and was able to coordinate our first event.”
Briceno, a broadcaster, who was just recently appointed to the board has been involved with the club since he was a child.
“I started going to the club when I was 5 years old, and I didn’t leave until I enlisted into the U.S. Army,” said Briceno. “I wanted to make sure that people see what the club has done for me and why I devote my time to doing well for others. There isn't anything else more fulfilling you can do in this world then to give back to your community.”
The Boys and Girls Club of El Paso provided that opportunity for the 16th MPAD to give back to the community and was grateful to assist wherever needed.
“We are very grateful for the 16th MPAD coming to the club,” said Art Jaime, chief professional officer, Boys and Girls Club of El Paso. “These projects are things that we were unable to accomplish without assistance. We are honored that a group of soldiers has taken the time out of their day to assist us and mentor the kids.”
The soldiers from the 16th MPAD spent their duty day cleaning, organizing closets and setting up the haunted house for the club but stayed late into the evening to help children with homework or play games with them.
“I am just grateful the Boys and Girls Club gave us relevant work to do that made a difference and will hopefully improve their capacity to help out the community here,” said Miller. “When we saw the kids come in at the end of the day, it made us realize this is what we did the work for. We didn’t do the work for the guys who run the place; we were working for the kids and providing opportunities for them.”
When the children arrived at the club, they welcomed the soldiers with open arms, playing pool, card games, pingpong and doing homework.
“I’ve seen that soldiers were treated like celebrities at this club: the kids really love being around the soldiers,” said Jaime. “The kids see them as role models; they really want to be around them.”
If a child had no one to look up to for guidance or direction, the soldiers provided that guidance for at least one day.
“They need leaders to walk with them and guide them on a path that will not only show them their potential but a path for success,” said Briceno. “I was one of those kids, and I am grateful that someone cared.”
For further information on how to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso visit www.bgcelpaso.org.