VICENZA, Italy (Oct. 30, 2018) - For the second consecutive, the Vicenza Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program was recognized with first-place honors at the annual National Recreation and Park Association conference held Sept. 27 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Michelle Sterkowicz, director of the Arts and Crafts Center for U.S. Army Garrison Italy's Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation, was on hand to accept the honor on behalf of the local program.

The challenges to take top honors with more than 80 programs in competition is fierce. But to claim the prize in consecutive years is a more impressive feat. There is more behind what is included in the nomination package.

Specialist Jasmine Diggs became involved with BOSS Vicenza when she first arrived in Italy as a geographic-single Soldier more than a year ago. As the treasurer and promoter through her work at America Forces Network Vicenza, Diggs said the group is always working to get better.

"This is a great organization. BOSS Vicenza really cares about the community. I think we have the best program because they're always looking for new things to do. They're always asking single Soldiers what they want to do. Whether the money is there for the event or not, BOSS Vicenza is going to find a way to make it happen."

One of the most popular new programs launched in the past year are sports competitions that begin at midnight. According to BOSS Vicenza Coordinator Scott Gordon, the "Midnight Games" are closely aligned with the 173rd Airborne Brigade training schedule.

"Every time we match up our scheduling with the training schedule, everyone is there and everyone has a great time. We designed the Midnight Games to provide another option for Soldiers to have something to do when they return from training. The success of the Midnight Games led to a trip to Rome and the Vatican to play the Swiss Guards in soccer. I think these games and that trip really opened up the eyes of our single Soldiers to what is available in Italy," said Gordon.

This year's BOSS Vicenza President says some people have a misperception about trips and activities having strict rules and following orders.

"I don't want people thinking they won't enjoy themselves on a BOSS trip because they 'can't do their own thing' or conform to what we have scheduled. We want them to go on the trip and have a good time. But if they want to do something else, they can do it as long as it's nothing stupid or dangerous," said Spc. Jean Padro-Alvarado.

For others, BOSS is more than just trips and games.

"BOSS is more than just an organization to go on trips and do events. We have volunteer opportunities to help Soldiers grown in their careers. Single Soldiers don't have an immediate family support system overseas and this program gives it to them. Everyone who comes together in BOSS is the same. There are no uniforms at our events. There's no 'I rank above you!' mentality, said Diggs.

Learn more about BOSS Vicenza and upcoming events on their Facebook page,