News: Fighting for dreams: service members give support, encouragement to students
Story by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Marines and sailors with 2nd Marine Logistics Group were recognized by the Military Child Education Coalition, or MCEC, for their hard work and sacrifices with the Hoops-N-Dreams program, at the MCEC national training seminar in Fort Washington, Md., July 9.
The service members’ commands received certificates recognizing them for the 2013 LTG (Ret.) H. G. “Pete” Taylor Partnership of Excellence Outstanding Individual Program award for their work with Hoops-N-Dreams.
“It started as an idea: Semper fidelis – being faithful to each other,” said Shiana K. Barbosa, a special education teacher for the Department of Defense. “It’s one thing to support somebody who has a naval academy nomination and who’s an honor graduate, but it’s another thing to be supportive of somebody whose future does not look as bright.”
Barbosa, who was medically retired from the Marine Corps after being struck by an allegedly drunk driver after graduating from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, continued to receive the support of her recruiter and fellow Marines for years after her discharge.
This encouragement inspired her to create the program, which teaches students team building, positive character traits and an appreciation for diversity while giving everyone a chance to play basketball on a team, regardless of ability.
The award was established to promote partnerships between military installations and school districts and bring recognition to the belief that “goodness happens at the local level.”
“Winning this award validates what Hoops-N-Dreams is about,” said Cpl. Jessica S. Gonzalez, a combat videographer with 2nd MLG, who coaches for the program. “It shows we are making an actual difference in kids of military members’ lives. It helps us keep the program around for a few more years, expand and have other children involved with it.”
Many of the coaches are active-duty service members who give up their own time to volunteer and mentor the students on the court and off.
“With this program, I can encourage Marines and sailors to think and feel that we have a responsibility to the community and our families to do the more we can to support them,” said Col. Gary F. Keim, the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd MLG. “They’re part of our team, they’re part of the reason we’re successful and they could be part of the reason we would fail without their support.”
With the new school year fast approaching and a constant need for coaches, Barbosa and the program’s supporters said they hope the recognition helps Hoops-N-Dreams expand within the community.
“I’m going to continue to talk about this as a positive thing,” said Keim, an Emerald Isle, N.C., native. “One of my priorities and desires as a regimental commander is that we get involved in Hoop-N-Dreams or a variety of other things. It’s the things we do voluntarily on our own time, not necessarily for pay, for the good of the community that says good things about the Marine Corps and makes us better people.”
This work, Fighting for dreams: service members give support, encouragement to students, by Cpl Sullivan Laramie, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.