Keesler teens give back

  • Published
  • By Rebecca Stryker
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
The teen summer camp at the youth center isn't just for hanging out and playing video games; Keesler's teens get out and help the community.

This summer, ten youth center teens are involved in an eight week volunteer program coordinated by Leslie Pitre with the Red Cross, at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System. Every Monday, the teens spend time in the VA Medical Center recreation room assisting residents with crafts, games and activities such as bingo, board games, ice cream socials and more.

Both the teens and residents benefit from the time spent talking and visiting with each other.

"The kids have really matured and have a sense of caring for individuals that are disabled," said Lara Herrin-Schaubhut, VA Recreational Therapist. "They see beyond themselves and their needs and are able to focus on the needs of others."

The program motivates residents to socialize outside of their rooms and enjoy the energy, smiling faces and conversation with Keesler's teens.

The daughter of Master Sgt. Matthew Erwin, 81st Medical Operations Squadron, looks forward to coming to the VA on Mondays. "You learn about what they have experienced, it's very insightful," she said.

She, like many of the other teens, has grown very fond of the residents and the special bond they have formed with them.

"Why not take a few minutes out of your time [to volunteer] because they've given so much to us," said Erwin's daughter.

The youth center offers many programs like this for Keesler's teens, as well as a safe place to hang out with friends, stay active and broaden their horizons.