Task Force Talon supports future of Guam with PIE

| March 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

 

U.S. Army (Left to right) Spc. Adam Jones, Spc. David Tatarwicrz and Spc. Shawn Fincanon with Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, demonstrate stretching techniques, Feb. 21, 2015, before Special Olympics athletes at the Machananao Elementary School practice for their events. The Soldiers volunteered at the Machananao Elementary School as part of the unit's volunteer initiative, Partners in Education. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Army (Left to right) Spc. Adam Jones, Spc. David Tatarwicrz and Spc. Shawn Fincanon with Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, demonstrate stretching techniques, Feb. 21, 2015, before Special Olympics athletes at the Machananao Elementary School practice for their events. The Soldiers volunteered at the Machananao Elementary School as part of the unit’s volunteer initiative, Partners in Education. (Courtesy Photo)

Sgt. Kimberly Menzies
94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM — Bright eyes follow the visitors entering the room.

The low murmur of whispers builds into rumbling excitement, as students greet the volunteers who enter with warm smiles and eager anticipation.

U.S. Army Spc. Ivy Fincanon with Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, helps judge a science fair for the Machananao Elementary School on the island of Guam. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Army Spc. Ivy Fincanon with Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, helps judge a science fair for the Machananao Elementary School on the island of Guam. (Courtesy Photo)

“The kids get super excited when they see us arrive,” said Sgt. Rory Garcia, the Task Force Talon Partners in Education liaison for Machananao Elementary School on the island of Guam and the sensory platoon squad leader with Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. “They are hungry for your attention, and they all want to work with you.”

“The kids literally swarm to you when you show up,” said Spc. Camden Ash, a command post external workstation operator with Btry. A, 2nd ADA. “They accepted us with open arms, and it was easy to tell that they liked having us there.”

“The kids really do enjoy when they come out, and the positive effects can be seen in their behavior and participation,” said Divina Leones, a gifted and talented preschooler teacher at the Machananao Elementary School and the school’s PIE liaison.

Partners in Education (PIE) is a unit volunteer initiative with the local elementary school through which Soldiers volunteer their time and help the elementary school’s teachers with various learning tasks or activities.

Spc. Vanessa Profit, Spc. Aaron Arlliano and Spc. Trevor Noyes with Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, begin to assemble pieces of lumber, July 24, 2014, as part of constructing seating benches for the Machananao Elementary School on the island of Guam. (Courtesy Photo)

Spc. Vanessa Profit, Spc. Aaron Arlliano and Spc. Trevor Noyes with Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, begin to assemble pieces of lumber, July 24, 2014, as part of constructing seating benches for the Machananao Elementary School on the island of Guam. (Courtesy Photo)

“We would help with everything from reading to coaching kids for the Special Olympics,” said Ash.

“During their summer break, we helped build benches for the kids to sit on, and during the school year we would even help chaperone field trips,” shared Garcia.

A few of the volunteers were apprehensive about the initiative at first, but those feelings were dispelled very quickly.

“It was something new for me but I thought ‘give it a chance, it could be fun,'” said Ash.

“Honestly, at first I was very apprehensive because I was worried that it would make me miss my own kids,” shares Garcia. “I soon realized that mentally I was approaching the idea the wrong way … I started volunteering and found that I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

The volunteers spent much of their free time volunteering and soon found that they had built bonds that were important to not only the teachers and children, but also to themselves.

“These kids love them,” said Leones. “Many of these children don’t have stable homes, and these Soldiers come to the school and provide a positive role model, someone they can look up to.”

“It is kind of crazy. You think that you are volunteering to have a positive effect on their lives, but these kids touch us too,” said Garcia. “I was chaperoning a field trip, and Miss Leones told me she wouldn’t be able to go because she was going to be attending a funeral for Ethan’s dad (a student with whom I had worked with during volunteering). I had just recently lost my father also. It was a hard experience for me. I knew what he was going through, and I knew he needed support.

“When Ethan came back to school, we talked about it, and bonded. I think we found a lot of healing together. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have been able to provide that support when he needed someone,” Garcia added.

For the Soldiers, volunteering was not just about providing things or activities for the kids at Machananao Elementary School; it was about positive life influences.

“This wasn’t just about volunteer hours for an award,” said Ash. “This was an opportunity for me to help bring some happiness and help to the local children – who wouldn’t want to be part of that.”

“This experience wasn’t about charity; it was so much more,” shared Garcia. “It was an opportunity to provide a happier childhood experience, to show that as Soldiers we aren’t here at war, we are here as part of the community and we are here helping make it better from the bottom up.

“You may think that you have it bad; you may not have an extra dollar to your name. That is okay. One thing you do have that you can give to those in need is your time and caring spirit,” Garcia said. “I started this experience worried it would make me miss my own kids, but in the end I have built relationships here that I will take with me forever. It actually makes it hard to want to leave.”

Though Soldiers with Btry. A, 2nd ADA, have returned home, their mission in Guam complete, the Machananao Elementary School will not be without volunteers. Btry. D, 2nd ADA, the unit which replaced Btry. A, will resume the PIE responsibilities for the next 12 months.

“We can’t even begin to tell you how much this means to these kids,” said Leones. “If you ask them, most of them will tell you that when they grow up, they want to be Soldiers just like these guys. That should tell the world a lot.”

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Category: Army News Service, Community, Education

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