Community interest, involvement leads to AMR Teen Center improvements

| June 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Laura Bratcher & Lauressa Reese
Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation

The Aliamanu Military Reservation Teen Center basketball courts are cleaned up and re-paved after falling into dis-repair. Study facilities at center also were upgraded to create a secluded and quiet area for students to use. (Laura Bratcher | Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation)SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Parental involvement can make a huge difference, not only in children, but also in local community resources, like repaving basketball courts and upgrading study facilities at the Aliamanu Military Reservation Teen Center.

When Master Sgt. Patrick and Johnetta Piper moved to Hawaii in 2008, they immediatey enrolled 17-year-old-son Meko Thompson in the AMR Teen Center. 

Thompson had continuously been involved in teen centers at various installations, but he was turned off and disappointed by the appearance of the AMR center, at first. He thought the center was cramped and not as well equipped as other places he had been before, and there was not a quiet place to do homework.

Johnetta advised her son to continue going to the center, and he became more active at the teen center by helping others with homework, teaching techniques he learned from leadership camps and emceeing for AMR’s Holiday Funfest. 

Eventually, his involvement led him to be locally nominated and to receive the Boys & Girls Club “Youth of the Year” award for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. However, while attending her son’s activities, Johnetta noticed his concerns were correct. A basketball court was in disrepair and overgrown with brush.   

After conversations with several people, in which no one expressed ownership of the court, Johnetta contacted Col. Matthew Margotta, USAG-HI commander, and asked to have a meeting. 

While waiting for her meeting date, Johnetta was invited to attend a Child, Youth and School Services’ advisory group meetings where Theresa Margotta was also in attendance. 

The two ladies began to converse and exchange thoughts about AMR’s Teen Center and the pictures Johnetta had taken to illustrate the dilapidated condition of the basketball court and the need for repair. 

Johnetta said parents look to the centers to provide teens with a safe and educational environment, but conditions at AMR were inadequate for studying. Also, there was a lack of space to accommodate children with special needs. 

“We do have wonderful staff,” she said. “We have great people who are very committed to these kids. However, you have to realize whatever you give, you’re going to get back.”  

A few weeks had passed when Thompson came home and excitedly said some people were clearing the basketball court. 

In addition to the court clearing and repavement, what was formerly an AMR storage area is now a computer lab that is closed off from the activity room. The lab is equipped with computers and tables in an effort to provide children with an atmosphere that is conducive to completing homework and research.  

Johnetta was very appreciative that the Margottas took interest in the project and responded so quickly to the needs of children.

“I just wanted to get the ball rolling,” she said. “CYSS has been a haven for my kids, and we should be able to offer our kids more. I’m doing this for the kids.” 

“She’s a parent that gets things done,” said Nelson Acosta, CYSS program site manager. 

Johnetta and her family greatly contributed to the programming and progressive transition of AMR Teen Center, and their influence will be felt in the community resource for a long time to come.

Category: Community

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