FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Fort Bragg/Pope American Red Cross summer youth volunteer program looks to place summer volunteers in various positions across the installation that will aid their leadership skills.

Open to youth ages 14 to 17, the program allows youth to learn new skills as young professionals and to give back to the community, said Jessica Tuttle, chairwoman of volunteer services to the armed forces.

There are 61 youth in this year's program who are allowed to volunteer 20 hours per week.
Teens shadow professionals at locations like Womack Army Medical Center in fields such as neurology, patient records and obstetrics and gynecology. The program runs from Monday to Aug. 10.

Maya Black began as a summer volunteer in 2007, and has progressed to a year-round volunteer. The program, she said, has enabled her to develop leadership skills and to overcome a problem she has had since childhood -- shyness.

"This program has really helped me come out of my shell because I started out as a regular volunteer and I've moved up to some leadership positions," Black said.

She has previously served as vice president and secretary, and will attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study pre- kinesiology (study of muscular movement)
The granddaughter and daughter of prior servicemembers, Black said, from them, she learned determination, which has carried her during her years as a youth volunteer.

The volunteer program has a storied history on Fort Bragg. Amber Alexander, who serves as a hospital chairperson, said she was a volunteer on the installation in the late 70s. She remembers working at the old Womack (what is now the Soldier Support Center on Normandy Drive.)

"I was a candy striper," Alexander said. "It (volunteering) gives the youth such a chance to give back to the community and it's so wonderful to get the experience and the exposure."
The program upholds the American Red Cross's principle of diversity because it brings youth and leadership together, she said.

Many of the youth activities are youth-led, said Sandy Mama, assistant station manager. As such, the program reinforces the idea of youth as leaders and teaches them to hone those skills.

For more information about the American Red Cross on Fort Bragg, like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/redcross#!/braggredcross or call them at the headquarters office (Building 1-1139, at the corner of Macomb and Hamilton streets) at 396-1231. The WAMC office (ground floor on the Reilly Road side) may be reached at 907-7124.

For more information about American Red Cross youth programs and services, visit http://redcrossyouth.org/.

Page last updated Fri June 22nd, 2012 at 16:02