Col. Gregory Holden, commander of the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, presented a certificate of appreciation to a local Wiesbaden youth home June 10 on Clay Kaserne.
The partnership was established by his predecessor Col. Devon Blake as a way to empower Soldiers to demonstrate care to local children and youth in need of assistance.
Holden invited Jugendhilfeverbund Antoniusheim employee Maria Augusta Lorenzo to be recognized for her contribution to the partnership.
“The program is very inspiring to watch,” Holden said. “It’s another piece of leader development. Not only for the Soldiers, but also for the children and young adults, some with a difficult past. Ms. Lorenzo provides a lot of leadership to them. These kids – just like our Soldiers — are future leaders.”
The local youth home Jugendhilfeverbund Antoniusheim provides assistance to children and young adults in difficult family situations.
“We work with kids of different groups with all kinds of different backgrounds. Some of them live in independent groups in small apartments. I work with one of the 11-to-19 year old groups,” explained Lorenzo, who has been involved in the partnership with 66th MI Bde. from the beginning. “At first, the kids were very shy. They didn’t speak any English and most of the Soldiers didn’t speak German. Since I am also an immigrant, I encouraged the kids to find a way to communicate. If you really want to communicate, you communicate.”
Around 45 Soldiers usually take part in six to eight events per year, including scavenger hunts and Christmas parties.
Lorenzo said one of the greatest benefits of the partnership with the U.S. Army is the cultural interchange. “The kids learn that not every culture is the same. They are very curious about the Americans, and it’s very interesting for the Americans to get to know the German culture.”
This summer, Holden will have his change of command, but he is hopeful that the partnership will continue to grow. “Seeing these kids develop and then take their first step outside into society is so rewarding. This partnership has been a fabulous relationship for both sides. My predecessor did a great job setting this up.”