Justice Mentoring Program members recognized by area juvenile court

  • Published
  • By Amy Rollins
  • Skywrighter Staff
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Members of the Justice Mentoring Program, a mentoring and community outreach nonprofit program in the greater Dayton area, received an eye-catching token of appreciation for their efforts Aug. 24 – the Air Force symbol, crafted from hundreds of miniature plastic figures painted and mounted on a board. Many of the JMP members are personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 


The symbol was an art and service project of the residents of the Montgomery County Juvenile Court’s Center for Adolescent Services (CAS), a secure facility for felony offenders in New Lebanon.


JMP has built a relationship with the juvenile court during the last year. On March 1, 20 Airmen visited the youth, sharing personal stories of overcoming obstacles and persevering through tough circumstances. The Airmen also explained to the youth how the Air Force has given them opportunities they never thought were possible and about their different jobs/roles in the military.


Inspired by the visit, the youth undertook a project, crafting the American flag from thousands of toy figures. They decided to keep that for themselves and make and present the Air Force symbol from the same kind of figures to the JMP in gratitude for their visit.


The token of appreciation was presented during a ceremony, complete with the honor guard from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, remarks from Chief Master Sgt. Michelle Jackson, NASIC command chief, and JMP members.


“This is an example of what can happen when the community, the Air Force and the court work together,” said Mike Garrett, CAS director. He commended the JMP Airmen for their commitment and constancy.


Jackson thanked Garrett and the juvenile court for their hospitality. She provided words of encouragement to the youth, telling them, “Do not allow your past to define you. ... Take your time; recover. ... Your ability to take responsibility for your past actions really says a lot about who you are.”


She thanked the Airmen for their volunteer efforts. Following the presentation, the Airmen and youth enjoyed lunch together.


Senior Airman Nathan Dillard, NASIC, helped found JMP last year, along with Senior Airman Kyle Flemings, NASIC, and Tech. Sgt. Nathan Falu Febres, NASIC. Senior Master Sgt. Alfred Willis Jr., NASIC, is the program’s senior mentor.


“We saw crazy things happening on TV with youth and we wanted to do something with those at risk and people in rough situations,” Fleming said. “We are creating alliances in the community with people who are trying to help the youth.”


Flemings said he was glad to share with the youth what the military has taught him – discipline, honesty and how to be a better citizen and person.


Senior Airman Isaiah Steward, a contracting specialist in the Contract Execution Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, wasn’t able to attend the March event, but was enthusiastic about his first visit to CAS.


“I wanted to come down and meet whoever I could,” he said. “I want them to know they are not destined to make wrong turns. It’s good for them to hear that from someone who is close to them in age, to let them know it’s possible. We’re not flawless either. Your path is determined by your next step.”


Steward said he was excited about sharing his military experience with the teens – why he joined, his purpose and career plans.


1st Lt. Amiryah Toves, a biodynamics research scientist at the 711th Human Performance Wing, United States School of Aerospace Medicine said, “I think it’s incredibly important to mentor our youth, especially youth in centers like this, where it’s meant for rehabilitation, to show them, ‘You can make better choices and you can still make a go at a good life. ... It’s not a hard stop.”


She said she spoke in a small group setting to the female population in March and encouraged the young women to pursue science, technology, engineering, mathematics.


“I encouraged dedication to those classes because of how fulfilling and important STEM fields are,” said Toves, who also drew on her experience as a resiliency trainer when speaking to the young women.


Senior Airman Kimberly Mullinax of NASIC and JMP secretary, said, “It’s important to mentor our youth because they are the direction of our future.”


She said she wanted to tell the youth, “As long as you have plans, as long as you have direction, that’s what matters.”


Brittini Long, Montgomery County Juvenile Court community engagement coordinator, said the event was a way for the youth to demonstrate appreciation, develop a sense of pride and learn there are people in the community who care about them.


“They learn they can be something, they have something to contribute and that a lot of people believe in them,” she said.