By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. – A group of Fort Lee Soldiers have been spending Saturday nights keeping kids off the streets.
Members of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Fort Lee chapter have volunteered their time to the Petersburg YMCA in support of a nighttime basketball program, since late last year.
Each of the roughly 15 Sergeant Audie Murphy Club members have lent more than 20 hours to the program that has run the first Saturday of each month since October. Their participation has been positive, according to the club president.
“The members love it,” said Sgt. 1st Class Angel Alston. “They get excited about it. It takes them back to when they were growing up because a lot of our members grew up in similar neighborhoods and situations.”
The program, which runs from 7:45 p.m. – midnight, has attracted about 50-60 12-to-17 year-olds for each session, said Alston.
Sergeant Audie Murphy Club members have refereed games and acted as coaches and mentors. Alston said the club’s participation in the program bolsters efforts to provide Tri-Cities youth with a healthy, recreational alternative to negative activity.
“It’s an opportunity to reach out to those teens who may not have strong male and female role models and give them insights about life,” she said.
Aside from increasing participation numbers, the next goal of the program is to offer military family members the opportunity to learn about another community demographic, said Alston.
“I think it’s good to have a diverse mix of kids – those who have resources and those who don’t – so they can share experiences, learn about one another and reach out to each other,” she said.
The nighttime basketball program is a collaboration between Shaping Our Future, a local youth advocacy group, and the YMCA.
It concludes next month, and Alston said the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is looking forward to continuing its participation in the fall.
Fort Lee Soldiers, families and civilian employees began a century of support to the nation in 1917 when Camp Lee was established to train the 80th Division for service during WWI. Today, Fort Lee is the Army’s Home of Sustainment and supports the training, education and development of adaptive Army professionals in fields such as transportation, supply, culinary arts and equipment repair and maintenance. Major organizations on the installation include the Defense Commissary Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency, Combined Arms Support Command, the Army Logistics University, U.S. Army Ordnance School, U.S. Army Quartermaster School and U.S. Army Transportation School. Fort Lee supports nearly 86,000 Soldiers, retirees, veterans, family members and civilian employees and boasts an economic impact of about $2.4 billion per year.