Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany --
It seems the “Good Life City” has been living up to its reputation for the new director at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Youth/Teen Center.
When Michelle Ramos and her husband of seven months, Angel, decided they were going to leave Orlando, Fla., the couple sought a location where they could accomplish a few short-term goals.
Ramos desired to be close to her family, Angel wanted to continue his college education and they both wanted to find an area that had a relatively low cost of living. After some thought, they decided a move to Andersonville, Ga., seemed to fit all their immediate needs.
“My parents relocated to Americus (Ga.) while I was a student at the University of Central Florida, so when my husband and I decided we were going to leave Orlando. This area was attractive because it allowed me to be close to my parents and it afforded my husband a good school where he could pursue his Master’s degree,” Ramos said. She added that Angel is currently enrolled at Georgia Southwestern University.
But what was most attractive to the newlyweds was the fact that “living in Southwest Georgia is a bit cheaper than Florida,” she said with a hearty laugh.
Ramos arrived in Southwest Georgia in August 2008, and up until just a couple of weeks ago, she had been searching for that dream job that would combine her work experience with her passion of working with kids.
Since 1999, Ramos had served in numerous roles with the Boys and Clubs of Central Florida, and she needed to reconnect with youth and teens.
“That’s all I’ve ever done,” said the 25-year-old Ramos. “I grew up in the Boys and Girls Clubs in Florida. When I was a teenager I starting working in the Club I grew up in, and when I went to college I started working part-time with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, and kinda just moved up the ladder.”
The Hollywood, Fla., native said she has done everything from being a “floater,” to being a service director, to running her own site that served more than 200 youth.
Being in the Orlando area, Ramos noted that she gained a wealth of experience working with the robust Boys and Girls Clubs there. Now, she said, her vast experience can filter down to the youth and teens here.
“This particular job [at Albany] is unique because although it’s affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club, it’s not your traditional Boys and Girls Club,” Ramos pointed out.
While the Youth/Teen Center here runs Boys and Girls Club programs, for the past month the center has only been serving about five to 12 kids, according to Ramos.
If that number seems small, she quickly points out that attendance usually picks up substantially during the summer months when kids are out of school.
Ramos said that when she arrived here for duty the first thing she noted is the “potential” that the Youth/Teen Center has.
“What drives me is that I feel kids deserve the absolute best. Me, coming from a Boys and Girls Club background; I received the benefit of having a safe, positive environment with positive role models. I feel we should always be striving to provide the best environments for them, the best programs for them… this is something I’m truly passionate about.”
Paula Caserio, director, Marine Corps Family Team Building, agreed.
“Michelle brings a lot of traditional skills [here] from the Boys and Girls Programs she’s been a part of. She definitely has her finger on the pulse of the kids, and that will be a huge part of our program. We are excited to have her.”
Caserio added that she is looking for Ramos to enhance the programs for the youth and their families here, as well as help the children with their graduate and career-type goals.
Currently, the Youth/Teen Center offers nurturing, developmentally appropriate afterschool care to youth and teens from age nine to 18.
Children eligible for care are family members of active duty military personnel, Department of Defense civilian and contract personnel, activated reserve or National Guard personnel assigned to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., and retirees.
Along with Ramos, the Youth/Teen Center currently employs a staff of two other part-time program assistants.
The afterschool activities include, assistance with homework, arts and crafts, computer lab, a pool table, foosball, snacks and a host of other activities.
The program fosters the social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth of each child in a fun, learning environment.
The Child Development Center operates under the auspices of the Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Family Team Building programs and is certified by the Department of Defense and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Afterschool Association.
The Youth/Teen Center is located in the base housing area at 9241 Wharton Ave.
All youth and teen participants must register through the Marine Corps Family Team Building Offices in the Child Development Complex.
For more information and to register, call (229) 639-7930. Ramos said she is eager to serve.