Growing up in small town Virginia, my exposure to military families was minimal. However, after living in Fayetteville the past three years, while attending Methodist University, I’ve become accustomed to seeing men and women in uniform, daily.
A reminder of their gracious offer to protect our country.
Over the last two years, I’ve volunteered at The First Tee of the Sandhills, assisting with programs and camps in Ft. Bragg and surrounding areas at Stryker GC, Gates Four Golf & CC and Baywood GC.
Many of the kiddos we work with at these locations are from military families.
Some, too young to realize the sacrifice their families make for our country, while others are fully aware of their parents’ role. As we get to know one another, many kiddos will explain how proud they are of their parents and how much they miss them. They’ve become resilient in adjusting to seeing their mom or dad via Facetime, than in person, for months at a time.
Honestly, it’s completely different from my youthful years. I would’ve had a hard time dealing with such a situation. But, these kids are some of the strongest I have ever met. They demonstrate perseverance and flexibility on a daily basis!
Working with and interacting with our participants has truly put life in perspective. Some of my favorite moments have been the simplest. During class at Styrker GC, a boy looked up to watch the helicopters flying overhead, he began naming off the different types while shouting, “My mom flies one of those!” The same day, a young girl beamed with excitement explaining her dad was returning from deployment after class that evening!
The pride they show for their parents and their jobs is extra special. And, I’m proud to be a small piece of these kiddos lives.
I’ve seen first hand that while they attend programs at The First Tee, they are learning how to apply valuable Life Skills – helping them persevere and stay confident through difficult situations. Even when hardships have yet to be faced, kids in our programs become well prepared to handle them. With fun golf games and engaging Core Value lessons, I know we are building good kids through golf.
A celebration, alone, worth some fireworks!
So, this July 4th, while I’m with my family celebrating our country’s Independence, I’ll also be thinking about the dozens of kiddos I’ve met through programs, and their families, who support and protect us every day. Providing me the opportunity to feel safe while enjoying family time.
I’ve challenged myself, and want to challenge you – let’s not forget how lucky we are, daily, let’s show the same level of appreciation year round, we have chosen to show today.
Happy Independence Day!
PGM Student at Methodist University, Class of 2020