I feel fortunate to have been able to participate as a young boy, new to the United States and new to Green Bay, in activities where you could have fun, learn in a safe environment, and explore opportunities.
I know the experiences I had there have been essential in my job now as a Police Officer in Milwaukee.
I first came to the United States with my parents and three brothers from a refugee camp in Thailand. My parents worked incredibly hard to support us, meaning that they weren’t always around when we got out of school.
Luckily I learned about the Boys and Girls Club in Green Bay and spent many days there after school. It gave me and my siblings a safe place to be and helped keep us out of trouble. When it came time to apply to colleges, I realized that those afterschool hours at the club had been about a lot more than just a safe place. We took advantage of resources like the gym and art room, places we would not otherwise have had access. Not only had my artistic side had been ignited in those hours, but I also realized that working towards a career in the arts was actually a feasible, valid life choice.
After pursuing degrees in art and biology at college, I was faced with the real world. Again luck must have been on my side; there was a position opening at the Boys and Girls Club of my youth as an Arts and Cultural Program Director. Two of my mentors were still working at the program. It seemed a great way to pursue my interest in the arts and reconnect with people who had made a formative difference in my life.
But I never anticipated that I would enjoy working with the community to the degree that I did and I certainly never anticipated that it would lead me to a career as a police officer. It may seem a drastic switch, but my enjoyment of this community involvement is what led me to pursue a career in law enforcement. I realized that I had the chance to change negative perceptions of law enforcement and truly make a difference in the community.
I feel fortunate to have been able to participate as a young boy, new to the United States and new to Green Bay, in activities where you could have fun, learn in a safe environment, and explore opportunities. I know the experiences I had there have been essential in my job now as a Police Officer in Milwaukee.
Every day, I see how young people today can wander down the wrong path...into gangs, crime and drugs. I hope my work is making a difference in these kids’ lives, but I know the difference afterschool programs make. It's the afterschool programs, like the one I was lucky enough to participate in, that help many kids have a chance at a better life.
America's Afterschool Storybook tells the stories of people and communities transformed by afterschool programs.
The Afterschool Alliance launched the Storybook to help commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the only federal initiative dedicated to supporting community afterschool programs.