June 16, 2015 --
Motivational speakers and facilitators from the base and the community delivered training on job readiness; interpersonal skills; career exploration as well as community service at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany's 2015 Teen Expo, which was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Albany, Georgia, June 11.
Roughly 30 teenaged children of active-duty personnel, retirees and veteran service members attended the two-day conference, which was hosted by MCLB Albany's Volunteer and Career Development Program staff.
Ranging in periods from total silence to outbursts of hysterical laughter from attendees, kick-off speaker, Steven Spraggins, human resources strategic development advisor, Civilian Workforce Development Division, MCLB Albany, engaged the audience with discussions about his earlier employment and his career progression over the years.
“At the time, I was a full-time college student, making $500 a month, as this was an internship,” Spraggins said. “I had three Spraggins, who loved to eat and a wife who loved to shop. I said, ‘This is my shot.’ So, I got up every day; I dressed really nicely; I was so professional; I was on top of my job. I out performed everybody else. I didn’t get any awards; I didn’t get any special recognition, but I did my job. I wanted to stand out; I wanted to make that change; I wanted it to happen in my life.
“Finally, after a year, there was a GS-03 position that came open and nobody else wanted it,” Spraggins recalled. “So, I went to (my boss) and I said, ‘Sir, there’s a position open and I believe I can be an asset to this organization if you give me a shot and let me have that position.’ He looked at me and said, ‘We'll see.’ And, he hired me.
“Someone in here today said the words, ‘lead and initiate,’” Spraggins emphasized to the teens. “You have to take charge. You’re all here because you have leadership abilities and you all want to make a difference.”
According to Michelle Ramos, placement coordinator, Volunteer and Career Development Program, MCLB Albany, the Teen Expo originated three years ago through grant funding, which was awarded to the installation by the Governor's Office for Children and Families.
“The tag line for the (Teen Expo) is ‘Be the Change’,” Ramos said. “The primary purpose of the (conference) is to equip military-affiliated teens with job-readiness skills and to motivate them to give back to the community. Community service is a great avenue for teens to develop work skills and to provide them with (professional) contacts.
“Our teens truly (do) have the power to change the world, they just need the skills and encouragement to do so,” Ramos concluded.
Paula Caserio, director, Family Care Branch, MCCS, MCLB Albany, commented on the event, its three-year program funding and its impact on the installation's teen population.
“I'm here to support the event, which is made possible through funding from the governor’s grant MCLB Albany received three years ago," Caserio said. “This is an initiative to help military families get involved and to buy into the community. It is just another opportunity to motivate our teens and youth. The (Teen Expo) has been an annual event for us during this grant period; (unfortunately), the funding will end June 30.”
Parent attendee, Kofie McCray, management assistant, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, volunteers her time to the Youth and Teen Program, here, and said she does so to support and encourage her teenage daughter.
“We are a military family,” McCray said. “Whenever there’s an event that our daughter participates in, I volunteer and I absolutely love it. Our daughter is newly discovering her independence and leadership; so, I love this function because they have different speakers coming in. That will help expose them to different things that they will have opportunities for in the future so that they can start planning for it.
“It’s one thing to have her dad and I say, ‘You need to focus on this.’ and, “This is what’s going to work.’ But, we are her parents; she is more receptive to outside people, who are actually doing things that she may be interested in. To have other people who can impart (positive) things into your children is really great.”
Several other speakers facilitated sessions for the conference including, Latreesa Perryman, school liaison manager, MCLB Albany, as well as Marvin Laster, assistant chief professional officer, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Albany, Georgia.
The two-day Teen Expo culminated with a trip to Wild Adventures Theme Park, Valdosta, Georgia, June 12.