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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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Passion for children drives M.I.A. founder to ‘give back’

By Verda L. Parker | | March 20, 2014


Service to her country is not the only passion that motivates Marine Corps Logistics Command's equal opportunity advisor, Staff Sgt. Juana L. Snell, to work tirelessly with some of the area's schools and organizations.

In addition to her usual duties, which she said is to execute the LOGCOM commanding general's program, Snell has collaborated "outside the fence line" to create a strong link of community partners.

According to Snell, her primary responsibilities for LOGCOM include educating, training people and making certain there are no discriminatory or sexual harassment behaviors taking place in the workplace. But, her responsibilities do not end there.

She oversees the equal opportunity representatives at Blount Island Command, Jacksonville, Fla., and Barstow, Calif., as well. She "insures and guides them as they fulfill their duties." Plus, she assists in organizing special observances, Black History Month, Women's History, Hispanic-Americans and "others too numerous to name," aboard the installation.

"I have represented the Marine Corps as well as the commands as keynote speaker at Albany State University and the American Legion," she continued.

Another layer of Snell's focus is on community relations. It was her desire to "give back" which served as the driving force that led to the inception of one student-focused initiative and her community engagement.

Networking with Albany State University, South-side and Radium Middle Schools, City of Albany Parks and Recreation Department, Habitat for Humanity, Girls Inc. of Albany, Ga., the American Legion and other Albany, Ga., organizations, she has managed to build a bridge, which further connects the installation to the Dougherty County community.

"I work heavily with Mentors in Action, which was developed in 2012," M.I.A.'s founder, Snell said.  "We just finished (working with) the Read Across America Program, which is something we have done over the past two years. It's super fun. (It feels really great) just being able to light up the kids' faces with Dr. Seuss stories."

Snell, a board of trustees' member for Girls Inc. of Albany, Ga., admits that she not only has a passion for children, but also she has a passion for "giving back." As such, she is equally active in the girls' club organization as well.

"This is my baby, outside of my other baby," she said referring to Girls Inc. of Albany and M.I.A.

Her personal belief is that the M.I.A. initiative helps in encouraging all Marines to take responsibility for their community, whether they grew up here or not.

"They are going to be there for the next two to three years in that community," Snell pointed out. "So, what are you going to give back to the community during the time that you're there? The other part of that is you're giving back to children and they're the next generation. So, what are we leaving behind (for them)?'

She added, "When Staff Sgt. Snell is gone, what am I leaving behind or when I'm old and gray, these kids that I am mentoring today, they  will be giving back to my community - (whether) directly or indirectly."

"Although (what I do) can become overwhelming sometimes, I think that it's very rewarding," she admitted. "Let me put it in this context. Whenever there's a great event taking place, people who just show up to the event only see the event and they get to enjoy it and love it, but they don't understand everything that takes place behind the scenes or how much work went into making it happen."

While reflecting on many of her accomplishments, Snell commented on how others may or may not have a clear perspective on her engagement and volunteering for so many projects.

"(Although) people may never see the amount of work that I have done, I think that they will see the impact of it when it really counts," she concluded.

Snell's achievements and impact in the programs and initiatives in which she is involved have earned her accolades from the community as well as fellow Marines who have partnered with her in some of her efforts.

"Staff Sgt. Snell epitomizes what the Marine Corps looks for from their staff noncommissioned officers in regard to setting the bar, highlighting the Corps in a positive light, when volunteering in and actively engaging the community," Capt. Justin Jacobs, company commander, Headquarters and Support Company, MCLB Albany, said.

"She is constantly looking for ways to influence, lead and mentor youth within the community and make a difference for those in need," Jacobs added. "Her many skills and enthusiasm are an asset in making the right impact."