Members of BMC’s Keystone Club wrapped donated gifts as part of the Angel Tree program Dec. 13. Photo courtesy of BMC Youth Programs
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Keystone club members volunteered at the Fisher House tree lighting ceremony Dec. 3 pause for a photo with Santa. Photo courtesy of BMC Youth Programs
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Boys and Girls Club of America Military Youth Programs awarded Baumholder’s youth program with its 2020-2021 Exceptional Service Award. Photo from online ceremony
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BAUMHOLDER, Germany — A prominent non-profit organization recognized Baumholder Military Community’s Child and Youth Services youth program Wednesday for being best in the Army.

The Boys and Girls Club of America’s Military Services 2020-2021 Military Recognition Ceremony, held online, was part of the tricenary celebration between the uniformed services and the club. BMC’s youth services received top honors for exceptional service.

“This award shows that our child and youth services continue to lead the Army in excellence,” said BMC Deputy Garrison Manager Jae Kim. “To have a BMC program recognized on such a large stage is an incredible honor.”

Jennifer Hodges, the garrison’s CYS coordinator, said she’s not surprise by the latest accolades.

“We get a lot of awards because we are the best,” said Hodges. “Even though the pandemic happened, you have a program that … is still excelling, achieving, meeting the families’ needs, meeting the kids’ needs and doing it with excellence.”

Youth Program Director Ryan Flynn credits his team and its strong partnerships with garrison leadership and the BGCA for the program’s excellence – especially during a pandemic.

“After school hours are key for youth to stay out of trouble and we want them to have a place to go,” said Flynn. “Working with the command team, we were able to stay open with rules, precautions, masks, social distancing in place. We fill that capacity daily. They like it here.”

The partnership between the military and the BGCA goes back 1991. According to President and CEO to Jim Clark, the club is one of the largest group serving military-connected youth on and off military installations. He said during the ceremony that 214 military organizations operate more than 500 BGCA-affiliated clubs that serve more than 526,000 military-connected youth.

Flynn said he believes BMC’s youth program stood out from the others because he and his team use all the resources that come with being a BGCA-affiliated club. Those resources often include BGCA partnerships with private-sector companies. Flynn said, for example, the UPS Road Code program is popular because unlike their friends back in the states, teenagers cannot get their drivers licenses.

“That program is a big opportunity to fill that gap,” he said.

Through the program, prospective drivers are able to prepare themselves for when they go back to the states to apply for their licenses. Plus, completing the course also reduces auto insurance rates, added Flynn.

Through the work of his team and volunteers, Baumholder’s youth center often hosts large, regional events such as Youth of the Year program and art shows.

On the flip side, BMC’s youth programs teach teens to give back. Baumholder’s Keystone Club recently volunteered at the Fisher House Tree lightening ceremony and the BMC’s teen center turned into gift-wrap central where they wrapped donated gifts destined to military families in need.

“My team is full of dedicated youth development professionals who believe in the mission and showed up every day through a global pandemic,” said Flynn. “They continue to ensure that youth at our center are giving the best youth development experience possible.”

The Exceptional Service Award wasn’t the only recognition for the BMC. BGCA awarded its inaugural Military Family of the Year award to BMC’s Fejeran family for, according to BGCA, “making the lives of others around the community better through volunteerism that embodies the Army spirit of selfless service and service excellence.”