By Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Wright, ASC Public Affairs February 20, 2014
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Sgt. 1st Class Darrick Dupree, Army Sustainment Command, spent part of his Valentine's Day speaking to about 550 Wilson Elementary students in Davenport, Iowa, about being the best they can be, Feb. 14.
Dupree was inducted into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club in 2009 -- an organization widely known for its involvement in community outreach.
"To me, the Audie Murphy Club meant the elite NCO's in the Army," Dupree said. "I knew I wanted to be a part of that. I also knew that being inducted into the Audie Murphy Club would be a great opportunity for me to do more for my community and family."
On Valentine's Day, Dupree and fellow SAMC member, Master Sgt. Samantha Weatherspoon, Army Contracting Command, spoke to the kids about the importance of setting goals and doing their best. Simultaneously, the school kicked off a new initiative that rewards children for positive behavior in a unique way.
"Wilson Elementary School is starting a coin program," Dupree said. "The program is similar to how we receive coins in the military, in that they will be awarded to kids for outstanding behavior or for an outstanding act of kindness."
Wilson Elementary is the third school Dupree has spoken at in the Quad Cities.
"One of my greatest joys is seeing the faces of those young ones when you walk in the building with that uniform," he said. "I get joy out of knowing that I can do something that will hopefully one day affect their outlook on life."
RIA garrison commander Col. Elmer Speights Jr. also spoke at the event after the principal and school counselor invited him to mentor some of the students.
"In particular, they would like to have examples of successful male role models in the classrooms, because the majority of their faculty is made up of females," Speights said.
The SAMC was established in 1986 at Fort Hood, Texas, in honor of the famous World War II veteran and Hollywood actor, Audie Murphy.
It started as an exclusive club only at Fort Hood, and expanded to include the entire Army, including the Reserves and National Guard, in the mid-90s.
The club encourages community outreach and involvement from its members.
"There is a misconception around this area that there is a Quad Cities family and a Rock Island Arsenal family," Dupree said. "We [RIA SAMC] believe that by going out into the community, we can bridge the gap between the two and let everyone know in the surrounding areas that we are willing to be a part of the Quad Cities family, that the two can be one."
Dupree says the RIA SAMC has volunteered at many events in the Quad Cities, including donating time at area homeless shelters and in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.