Friday, August 17, 2012

TOP STORY >> Celebrating 2012 youth of the year

By Stephanie Johnson
19th Force Support Squadron

For the second year in a row, Al “Montrice” Nelson was awarded Little Rock Air Force Base’s Youth of the Year.

Youth of the Year is the highest honor a member of Youth Programs can receive at the installation level. The honor is modeled after the National Boys and Girls Club of America Youth of the Year program, which was founded more than 60 years ago. To compete locally, nominees submit personal essays and information packages describing their involvement with home and family, moral character, community, school, service to club and life goals. Installation winners compete in both state and Major Command competitions. Nelson received his award at the Pentagon in June 2012, with 60 other winners from across the country.

Nelson has not slowed down since winning his first Youth of the Year award in 2011. Since the beginning of 2012, this high school senior has logged more than 700 volunteer hours both on base and in the local community while also working part-time. He completed his second term as Keystone Club president, a club where Air Force teens gain valuable leadership and service experience through activities geared toward academic success, career exploration and community service. He is a member of the Boys and Girls Club Teen Ambassador Survey Team for the Southwest District. In early July of this year, Montrice attended the Air Force Teen Leadership Camp at the University of Texas – San Antonio, a camp for high school students interested in leadership, team dynamics and peer mentorship. In addition, he just completed a two-year term as Teen Council Member representative for AMC.

His love for Youth Programs and community service began as a young child in Germany, where his father served in the U.S. Army. Among the youngest Youth Programs members at Darmstadt, he enjoyed participating in the fundraisers and base-wide events while there. Through his involvement in Youth Programs, Nelson has put in countless hours of volunteer service ranging from mentoring young children to assisting with events such as the annual Easter egg hunts, 4th of July Festivals, Family Fest, Halloween Carnival and the American Kid’s Run.

Beyond participating in organized clubs and programs, Nelson even finds ways to volunteer on his own. While taking a stroll around the base lake earlier this year, he noticed how much trash was accumulating in and around the water. He took three hours out of his day to clean it up on his own.

Nelson has an entrepreneurial and giving spirit, he recognizes when help is needed and is willing to give without expecting anything in return. After an EF-2 tornado caused significant damage to homes and facilities at Little Rock Air Force base in April 2011, he volunteered his free time at the Thomas Community Activity Center, helping families affected by the tornado.

“I went out the night of the tornado and handed out towels and batteries, shuttled people and collected and handed out donations,” said Nelson.

Nelson strives to instill his own values into other youths.

 “I have adhered to high moral standards by staying true to the values and moral views implemented by my parents, and through my experiences,” he said. “I was taught as a young man that when meeting new people the first impression is of the upmost importance … people will always remember you from the first time they saw you, the way you spoke, not as much as the material things, such as what brand of clothes you wore, or the way your hair looked.“

What do parents Al and Ute Nelson, both members of the 19th Force Support Squadron, think of their son’s dedication to serving others?

 “I am proud of him. We push him hard. And, everything he strives for, we support him,” said Al.

For more information on Youth Services, please call 987-6355.

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