Written by Maria Yager
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Public Affairs
Fort Campbell, KY – Soldiers and civilians from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital volunteered at Clarksville, Tennessee’s Northeast Middle School, recently as part of the Partners in Education initiative where local organizations support schools in the community.
“The Partners in Education program is a way for the units on Fort Campbell to integrate into the community by way of volunteering with the on-post and off-post schools. Primarily the units ‘adopt’ an entire school, but BACH has adopted a specific classroom,” said Staff Sgt. Jamie Hendzel, a BACH Soldier who coordinated the monthly visit. “For me, I get excited just to hang out with these kids. By visiting them specifically, it makes more of an impact I think.”
Since it was Valentine’s Day, the BACH team brought goodie bags filled with treats donated by hospital personnel. The students received Valentines with well wishes, treats, pencils and other trinkets to enjoy.
“This is my second activity. I came for the Christmas party and now for Valentine’s Day,” said Rosa Rivera, a federal employee at BACH’s Resource Management Division, who used personal leave just so she could participate. “I’ve always loved volunteering. Unless we make it intentional, we will never do it. So, I decided that I was going to start volunteering every month when the Soldiers come.” Rivera and nearly a dozen Soldiers visited with the class at the middle school.
Participants took time to sit and engage with students talking about their studies and interests. Rivera and a student sat and talked about the book he was reading for his class. Another volunteer and student worked together on a paper.
Two Soldiers sat at another table with a couple of students and played a card game that helps students hone their planning and strategy skills. All around the classroom, students appeared to enjoy the one-on-one interaction with the hospital volunteers. For one Soldier, the opportunity to volunteer struck a personal note.
“I actually attended Northeast High School and volunteered with this school before, when I was a student,” said Capt. Breanna Price, now a Medical Service Corps officer at BACH who first came to Clarksville in her teens when her father was assigned to Fort Campbell. As a Northeast and Austin Peay graduate, Price has firsthand knowledge to share with students on how she achieved her goals in
Clarksville. “I enjoy coming out and visiting the students, especially because I grew up here.” Hendzel and the team at Northeast are already planning future activities to partner in.
“It’s something the children look forward to, and it creates a lot of memories, said one Northeast teacher. “The kids were so excited today. They couldn’t stand the wait.”
Blanchfield staff has supported Northeast Middle School for more than four years.