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Camp Parks and Dublin High Collaborate in Support of Transition Students

April 17, 2014
Major Worthington and Bree LeMoine

Major Worthington and Bree LeMoine

When one visits a bank, it is usually to either place a deposit or to make a withdrawal; earlier this year, however, Dublin High School Transition teacher Bree LeMoine was leading a visit of her students to Patelco as an element of their weekly activities. Transition refers to a post-high school program for special needs students (aged 18-22) which places an emphasis on life skills. During this trip, Ms. LeMoine had a chance meeting with another client in the branch. Major Edward Worthington III noticed this group and was intrigued. He immediately introduced himself to Bree and the students. Maj. Worthington told the students that he was based at Camp Parks and inquired how he and his staff could support their development. Consequently, Ms. LeMoine asked “How may we help you at Camp Parks?” This fast developing friendship spawned a meeting shortly thereafter at the base.

By invitation, Bree and her colleague, Cheryl Phipps attended a meeting at Parks. It was held at the Headquarters. The meeting was very formal and the staff members introduced themselves and explained their respective responsibilities. Bree and Cheryl went on to explain how the Workability program supports the Transition class and further detailed how vocational training is a key element to the further development of their students. The spark was immediate. It was clear that a partnership could be formed. Further, Maj. Worthington could foresee additional partnership opportunities – including the support of the Special Olympics.

As Camp Parks RFTA (Reserve Forces Training Area) has shared a decades-long relationship with the City of Dublin, it’s important to learn a bit more about Major Edward Worthington. Over 25 years, Edward has been station both stateside and abroad. Some of his deployments are highlighted in Panama, Desert Storm, South Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. He had a previous stay at Camp Parks and returned in 2013. Currently, he is an Executive Officer, overseeing daily operations over 94 senior Army personnel and $1.5 MM in equipment, building and vehicle maintenance and supplies. Here are the details of our visit. Please describe some of the highlights from your military career.

Major Worthington

Major Worthington

Major Edward Worthington:I have had the privilege to serve with the best our country has to offer through 6 combat deployments and nearly 26 years of service. I was witness to the USSR falling and the end of the Cold War. I have had the opportunity to make life and death decisions that have materially helped change the course of history on multiple fronts and occasions and I hope I have had a small part in making the world a better and safer place for generations to come. Hopefully there are people today living a better life based on my actions.” As a young person, please explain why you decided to serve your country in the armed forces. 

Worthington: “As a young high school student I grew up in Southern Michigan which was a hotbed of manufacturing and what not at the time. I held a position in a chicken processing plant which was not enjoyable and happened upon a poster of an Airborne Ranger posted in a window at the Army recruiting office. I literally walked in, and asked the recruiter how I could be that guy, he gave me the poster which I have to this day and shipped me out less than a month later. I saw the Army as a honorable profession and a way to leave the assembly lines behind originally, once indoctrinated into the Army it quickly became a lot more than that to me, Duty, Honor, Country, and that’s why I am still doing it today, 25+ years later.” For years, Camp Parks has been part of the fabric of Dublin. Geographically, it is in the center of town. Why do you and your colleagues feel that it is important to serve as a part of community?

Worthington: “We are all duty bound, civilian or military, to make the world a better place then when we entered it. Dublin and the residents in the surrounding areas have made it such a pleasure and wonderful place for our Soldiers that we would be remiss in not offering assistance where we can.  There is a real sense of accomplishment in helping others and being part of something larger then oneself, we have found that in the Workability program as well as other initiatives we participate in. The genuine appreciation and friendship we share with the students cannot be explained, I had a young man come up to me at the Special Olympics and give me a genuine big old hug, what a great feeling!” The Transition students are thrilled with this opportunity to support your staff. What does it mean to have them visit your site two times a week? Please explain. 

Worthington: The students’ weekly visits provide my staff with the ability to see 5-10 individuals a session with large smiles on their faces, great attitudes, and the demonstrated intestinal fortitude to be willing to try and accomplish something they are not completely comfortable with who really want to be here with us. Every time they visit they demonstrate what we call Army Strong. They are great young man and women and it absolutely puts smiles on the faces of every Soldier in the formation to interact and call them friends and partners in our profession of arms.” What might you tell a young person that may be contemplating a career in the armed forces?

Worthington: “There is no more honorable or important profession then what we do, to be willing to become part of something larger and more important than to yourself and to be willing to potentially sacrifice all for the greater good. If you are morally and physically straight, are willing to accept the challenge, please come be part of the team – we are only as strong as our weakest member and we need the best and brightest in uniform for our nation and children’s future.”

Over a year ago, detailed how the Transition Program at Dublin High School was becoming immersed within the Dublin community. A very large segment of this program is partnering with local businesses for vocational training. Some of these have included: Armstrong Nursery TJ Maxx, Fitness 2000, Earl Anthony Bowl and the Dublin Senior Center. These opportunities have been vital in opening up vocational skills, which prepares them for future employment opportunities. We wanted to avail an opportunity to the Transition leader, Bree LeMoine and to gather her thoughts on this new opportunity. In general, how have your students responded to this new opportunity at Camp Parks? Please explain.

Bree LeMoine and Melissa Smith

Bree LeMoine and Melissa Smith

Bree LeMoine:My students beam with pride when they tell people they work at Camp Parks. One day, while waiting for lunch a firefighter began talking to us. He asked me what my class was all about. His exact words were, “what do you do?”Upon hearing this, one of my students puffed out her chest and interjected, “we’re in the Army!” And while we aren’t truly “in the Army” the students feel a sense of belonging that they have rarely, if ever experienced before. Camp Parks has welcomed us into the Army “family” with open arms and it couldn’t be a better feeling.” Provide us with specific examples of how these visits have enriched their experience. 

LeMoine:Typically my students are offered jobs that entail cleaning and stocking which limits them from discovering their full potential. Camp Parks offers us a wide variety of skill sets that the students are being exposed to. This gives the students a greater opportunity to figure out what kind of jobs they are suited for and want to pursue in the future.” The presence and activism of Parks personnel has recently increased at Special Olympics events in the Tri-Valley. Please explain why this has happened. 

LeMoine: “During our initial meeting, the soldiers asked about other volunteer opportunities they could get involved in. I told them about the School Based Special Olympics Program and they were excited about the opportunity. I connected them with Eric Hamilton, Coordinator of Tri-Valley Special Olympics who was thrilled to work with them as well. The soldiers immediately jumped on board and signed up to work the basketball tournament that occurred this past March.

“On the day of the games, as we drove into the parking lot, we saw 10 soldiers standing curbside waving. They greeted us at our van and gave the students a quick pep talk before heading off to their individual job assignments. When it was time for us to play, the soldiers were released from their posts to cheer us on. Our soldiers stood behind the basketball hoop coaching the students and cheering us to victory!! It was a scene that I will never forget.” While the Camp Parks relationship is relative new, describe how you see this program developing beyond its current state. 

LeMoine:Our partnership has just clicked from day one. They understand what my goals are for the students and they have accepted the challenge. They treat my students with the utmost respect and dignity. They have high, but appropriate expectations for the students. They see when something is too challenging for my students and they make appropriate modifications when needed. In turn, the soldiers have expressed to me their deep fondness and admiration they have for the students. My hope is that we continue to be in sync with our vision of the partnership and we continue to touch each other’s lives.” Please detail some of the tasks/projects that have been assigned to your students at Camp Parks.

Army Meal Ready-to-Eat Camp Parks Dublin CaliforniaLemoine: “We have a huge learning curve right now. Not only are we learning several different jobs, we are learning a whole new language…the military language! Our very first job was moving MRE’s to a storage facility. Not only did the soldiers explain what MRE stands for (Meal, ready-to-eat) they opened one up and let the students sample it. After that experience, I don’t think my students will ever forget what an MRE is. We have also worked in the Motor Pool with SFC Garcia doing everything from making stencils, spray painting Humvees, packaging equipment, doing inventory, and administrative work.” Anything else that you would like to add?

LeMoine: “Not only are the soldiers providing us with an excellent vocational opportunity, they are also providing the students with educational experiences that most civilians are not lucky enough to ever experience. MSG Gordon contacted the Coast Guard and arranged the bomb sniffing K-9 soldiers and their handlers to do a presentation and demonstration. SFC Middleton is arranging a Florist to come in for a lesson on floral arranging. He has also offered to arrange a trip to Travis Air Force Base. They surprise us daily with opportunities that I can only come up with in my dreams. My students and I are forever grateful. Hooah, Gunslingers!”

So, you can see what a simple visit to a bank or credit union can produce. It may be a simple deposit. Or, it may yield a life-altering event for a young person. applauds the efforts of Major Edward Worthington, Bree LeMoine and her support staff.

  1. Sean Pitts permalink
    April 22, 2014 7:12 pm

    It is an honor working at camp parks with the men and women serving our country.


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