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Youth Center club achieves national recognition

Photo courtesy of Buckley Youth Center Keystone Club

Photo courtesy of Buckley Youth Center Keystone Club

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Buckley Youth Center Keystone Club has been recognized by the Boys and Girls Club as a gold-level member, becoming the first-ever club on Buckley Air Force Base to do so.

Per Air Force regulations, each youth center is required to have a Keystone Club as a charter member of the Boys and Girls Club. This club, however, recently met all the requirements to be recognized as a gold-level member of Keystone, a feat only accomplished by 81 out of 1,064 clubs worldwide.

"We've been very fortunate and we've worked hard to keep the Keystone members involved and focused on the goals that we had to accomplish and keep moving forward," said Vince Kurtz, Buckley teen coordinator. "We have a core of four officers that has been here since we chartered, and we went through silver and gold, so I think this core group of Keystone members were really instrumental to making it all happen."

In order to qualify for the gold-level, Keystone Clubs must achieve certain goals in four specific areas: community service, academic success, career preparation and teen outreach. They must also hold a teen outreach event, such as the Suicide Awareness Lock-in held in August, implement teen recruitment events and serve as mentors to younger Torch Club members. They must also complete a program self-assessment to determine where they are succeeding and where they can improve.

"The program assessment is a tool that the leadership in the club uses to see if they're meeting the areas they need to and where they can improve," said Kaureen Whittaker, Youth Programs chief. "Then they make a plan to see where they can improve for next year's club."

Though they know there are always places to improve, Keystone Club officers are satisfied with the state of the club and the direction in which it's moving.

"There are definitely some things we need to improve on," said Danielle Wright, Keystone Club president, "I like where we're at right now, but I think we can be better. That's what allows you to move forward."

Despite all they've accomplished, the club knows they can only move forward from here. Wright wants to continue to grow the club and keep it active so they can be more involved in the community and have even more of an impact.

"I want to be able to have more members so that we can keep the club active as it is," said Wright. "That's one of the larger goals to me is to have more members so we can reach out more with community service, or other schools or career fairs, to show these kids that they have these options."

As part of their recognition, the Buckley Youth Center Keystone Club has been invited to the national Keystone conference to get together with other clubs, network, and decide on which issues are most heavily affecting youth and teens across the country, especially in the military.

As the club looks to implement its plan for the next year, Wright says that, whether or not she continues as president, she wants to leave a lasting impact, and make sure the change she has affected can remain strong.

"I want them to be left with a good community and good connections," Wright said. "We create a plan for next year, so we know what we need to be prepared for, and what we can do to improve."

The next level that the club will work towards will be legacy which, if achieved, will allow them to make even more of an impact on the base and the surrounding community.
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