PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2023) — One of Monterey’s most popular beaches is cleaner after a visit from the Presidio of Monterey’s Better Opportunities for Single Service Members program on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Nearly 20 service members accompanied Hugo Ambriz Tena, the installation’s BOSS advisor, to pick up trash at Del Monte Beach. The BOSS program, at Army installations throughout the world, has three guiding pillars: quality of life, community service and recreation and leisure.
This visit was a good way to fulfill the program’s community service component and give back to the community, Tena said. BOSS organizers try to hold a beach cleanup once a quarter, he said. The Presidio of Monterey’s main gate is a short walk to the Pacific Ocean and there are several beaches in the area.
Service members who participated said they appreciated the opportunity to get out in the community and make a difference.
Army Cpl. Aysha Sweilem said she arrived at PoM about a month ago and became involved in BOSS right away after having a great experience with the organization at her previous installation, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
Sweilem said that she not only discovered she enjoys volunteering with BOSS, but she also likes getting to meet other service members—some of them from other branches of the military.
While BOSS is called “Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers” at most installations, the title includes all service members at PoM because most members are students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, and service members from all military branches attend. Similarly, JBLM is a joint base between the Army and Air Force.
In terms of the beach cleanup, Sweilem said everyone, service members included, wants to visit clean beaches.
“The beach is a place that a lot of people come to and hang out at and it’s really important that they come to a clean beach,” Sweilem said. “It’s important that we leave our oceans beautiful, where everybody can come hang out.”
Likewise, Army Pvt. Kaleb Calhoun said he enjoys volunteering to help the community, increase his knowledge of the world through new experiences and meet other service members.
“[Today] I got to meet this really cool Marine,” Calhoun said. “We talked about how he’s going to start [studying the Indonesian language] soon. I just wanted to get out and show the community that we’re working for them, trying to clean up the beach.”
Calhoun, recognized Feb. 24 in front of his company for his volunteer work with the City of Marina’s French Broom Abatement Project at East Garrison/Fort Ord, said this was his first volunteer event with BOSS, and everything went well.
“It was staged really well,” Calhoun said. “The Hobson [Recreation Center (BOSS headquarters)] is a great place in general to go and chill out and I’m really glad that they have these volunteer opportunities for people to come and just show their support for the community and try to better themselves by helping others.”
During the event, at least two members of the Monterey community thanked service members for their work. “That’s super cool,” said one man when a service member told him who they were and what they were doing. “Thanks for doing that!”