Airmen make a difference for kids

August 10, 2012 3:30:07 PM PDT
During the summer, the Boys and Girls Club of Goldsboro serves up to 200 youth a day. While there are plenty of activities for the kids to take part in, there used to be very few volunteers and mentors.

Staff Sergeant James Ward is a member of a professional private organization at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base called Group 56.

He suggested the organization volunteer at the center, and the other members agreed. Since April, 90 airmen have logged more than 400 volunteer hours. One hundred and sixty of those hours belong to Sergeant Ward.

"They have a level of respect already for the military, and I think by us being out here, it's helping further that," said Ward. "I dedicate pretty much all my spare time here."

Sergeant Ward also used his leave to mentor a group of boys who got suspended from school.

"I said 'Well, let me take them' and did almost a parallel community service program [to] teach them what they did was wrong and help them learn from it. Hopefully, they will use that knowledge to change their lives for the better," Ward explained.

Not only do the airmen help with the kids, they also work to improve the facility. In June, they refurbished some old book shelves in the learning center.

"The kids came in the next day and they're like, 'Oh, we got new bookcases,'" Ward recalled.

Soon, the airmen plan to repair some skylights that leak when it rains. But, Sergeant Ward says it's the impact the airmen have on the kids that keeps them coming back.

"The part that I like is knowing that down the road they're going to be able to succeed because of the help that we brought here," he explained.

For their dedication to the kids, this week's Armed Forces Salute goes to Staff Sergeant James Ward and the Seymour Johnson airmen who give their time and talents to the Boys and Girls Club of Goldsboro.

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