Teen Honored For Charity Work
BY SGT. DANIEL SCHROEDER
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
Children of service members encounter challenges as a result of the military lifestyle. One teen who was suddenly thrust into this lifestyle not only overcame her challenges, but found a way to flourish.
Katelyn Brown received the 2013 Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Hawaii Military Youth of the Year last month at the state Capitol.
“I felt very honored and proud to receive this award,” said the 17-year-old volunteer. “Getting this award made me feel that I can do anything as long as I dedicate myself to accomplishing the goals I set.”
Brown lived in a small town of about 1,000 people for more than 10 years. Her way of life was turned upside down when her mother, Steffanie, an MWR employee, married Staff Sgt. Brian Walter.
Shortly after, Brown had to transition from small-town North Carolina to military life in Hawaii. Several fears and doubts arose in her mind and she had some trouble adjusting to her new life and home.
“I started to feel that I would never get adjusted to my new life, make friends, or even fit in. I wondered ‘Is this the life I wanted?’” Brown recalled.
In an attempt to get involved with her peers, she visited the Schofield Barracks Teen Center. Immediately, she felt at home.
“I began volunteering because I wanted to get involved with whatever was going on in the community,” said Brown. “The best part of volunteering is the outcome, knowing I can do stuff for others without spending money. The feeling of helping others cannot be matched.”
She began volunteering at the Torch Club “Leadership Club.” The group supports community service activities, educational activities and teen socials.
“One of my most memorable moments I volunteered at was the Toy GiveAway with the BGCA and Toy Industry Foundation,” she recalled. “We gave away more than 2,000 toys to Army and military children for Christmas.”
For being named the 2013 BGCA Hawaii Military Youth of the Year, Brown was awarded a $3,000 college scholarship, which she plans to use at the University of North Carolina while studying to become a registered nurse.
Along with the scholarship, she was presented with a plaque from the State Senate and House of Representatives, honored by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and received a letter from Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.
“Katelyn has overcome any issue or struggle that comes with a blended family to better herself,” said Walter. “She has only been in a military home for two years, and winning this distinguished award has motivated her to continue her education. I am very proud of her accomplishments and to be called her stepfather.”
Brown’s next challenge will be the BGCA Military Youth of the Year Regional Competition, July 15-18 in Huntington Beach, Calif.
“Taking this honor as Hawaii’s Military Youth of the Year is one that I will cherish and will represent the Army Hawaii with great dignity and grace,” she said.
“This award will show Army teens that there’s something out there for them to accomplish and strive for.”