JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
“One of the young girls told me, ‘You know when you dream that you have everything and you wake up and you have nothing? Well, this was the opposite of that,’” said Mary Midyette, Team Up mentoring supervisor after purchasing gifts during the “Shop with a Cop” event.
U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 201, with the support of the 633rd Security Forces Squadron and 633rd Civil Engineering Squadron, partnered with The Up Center’s Team Up mentoring program, a non-profit organization in Hampton Roads, Va., to mentor 13 local youth during the “Shop with a Cop” event at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Dec. 19, 2017.
The event featured a show-and-tell where the service members demonstrated to the children what they do on a daily basis to ensure security at JBLE, such as K-9 handling, explosive ordinance disposal and advanced investigative techniques.
“The goal of this event was to build positive and lasting relationships between law enforcement and youth from our Hampton Roads community by exposing them to the Air Force and our law enforcement mission,” said AFOSI Special Agent Troy Odierno.
Following the show-and-tell, each child was assigned a partner for the day, with either an AFOSI Special Agent or a 633rd SFS defender who escorted them through the Base Exchange. Each child was also gifted $70 to purchase items they would like for themselves or their families for the holidays.
Many of the children took the opportunity to use the donations not only for themselves, but their families for the holidays.
The Frost siblings for example, wandered around the Base Exchange, after finding the gifts they liked, in search of a nice smelling gift for their blind, single-mother.
After purchasing the gifts and having some of them wrapped for free outside of the entrance, the children thanked the law enforcement personnel for allowing them to purchase gifts they otherwise may have missed out on during this holiday season.
According to Midyette, Team Up provides caring adult role models to at-risk youth, from age six to 17, in the South Hampton Roads area. There are currently 327 boys and 95 girls waiting for a mentor in the five cities in South Hampton Roads of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk and Virginia Beach.
The program is volunteer and donation based. Each mentor commits several hours a week, for at least one year, to those they mentor with their guidance, support and encouragement.
“Amazing things happen when an adult takes an interest in a child,” said Midyette. “Studies and our own outcome assessments show that mentored youth do better in school, are more likely to go on to college, get along better with family and peers and they are less likely to get involved with drugs. Mentoring can transform the lives of the young people in our community so they can reach their full potential.”