Miss A Columnist

Melissa Kenyon is a Denver-based storyteller with roots in Atlanta. What she loves most about writing is getting the chance to tell stories that shed light on the inspirational people in this world. Some of the causes she holds close to her heart include animal welfare, the arts, environmental responsibility and education.

Melissa holds her master’s degree in communication management and public relations from the University of Colorado. Her professional background includes marketing for nonprofits, tourism bureaus and chambers of commerce. She also writes for various wedding, travel and lifestyle publications.

When she’s not working, Melissa loves traveling around the world and playing with her two dogs, Dolly and Cowboy. She also serves as a board member for the Denver Woman’s Press Club and the Denver Metro CU Alumni Chapter.

Recap: Buckley Air Force Base 2014 Youth Of The Year Awards


Kids preparing the meal for the awards dinner; Photo Credit: Buckley AFB Youth Center

On Friday, November 14, 2014, at the Buckley AFB Youth Centerthe Buckley Air Force Base (AFB) 2014 Youth of the Year Awards honored 12 students for their commendable community service over the past year. A major supporter of the military community, Colorado Culinary Academy (CCA) was selected as the Presenting Sponsor of this prestigious event.

The 12 students who received the awards are dependents of active duty military personnel stationed at Buckley AFB in the metro Denver community. These youth participate in programs at the Buckley AFB Youth Center, an affiliate of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. This organization’s programs offer access to character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, as well as the arts.

Award recepient profiles provided by the Buckley AFB Youth Center:

Latrail Thompson: Latrail is a great youth leader. He’s always dependable in helping other youth when asked. When he is not busy running track with his high school, he is the Treasurer of the Buckley Keystone Club. Latrail has been a great addition to our program and is always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need.

Adam Priester: Always willing to lend a hand even with his busy schedule, Adam is one of the strongest leaders at our center. Whether it’s networking with the Colorado National Guard Teen Council or setting up a flag football Turkeybowl, Adam has it covered.

Ernesto Flores: Ernesto is one of our most helpful teens. He is always asking staff if they need help with anything.  From setting up World Day of Play to breaking down laser tag lock-ins, he always brings energy to whatever program he helps run.

Brianna Hurrell: Brianna is one of the many youths here that play a huge role in our program.  She is President of our Torch Club and is always stepping in to assist programs and staff when an extra hand is needed.  She has a knack for running events like the Valentine’s Dance. Brianna is a wonderful youth leader.

Derek Caples: Derek is a great youth to have here at the center. You can find him mostly in the gym honing his shot or organizing basketball games. He loves working with other youth and is an active member of our Torch Club. With a quick and friendly smile, Derek is a pleasure to have around.

Giovanna Galloway: Giovanna is a very colorful girl who always knows what to say. She loves helping staff and being involved in our programming and events. As she is more than willing to run our snack bar six days a week if needed, we can always count on her to get the job done. Giovanna is a motivated youth that always pushes herself to meet her goals.

Westin Richmond: Westin is one of our newest members in youth programs. But being new didn’t stop Westin from diving right in and helping with anything and everything. Always looking for something to do, you’ll find Westin starting up a game of football in the gym or involving himself with the Keystone Club. Westin is a valuable and welcome addition to the Youth Center.


Little chefs cooking up a storm; Photo Credit: Buckley AFB Youth Center

Jace Arno: With an easy smile and unique sense of humor, Jace is always looking to lighten the mood while helping staff and fellow youth. While broadening his responsibilities as an active member of  the Keystone Club, Jace has taught other youth that personal growth begins when you put yourself outside your comfort zone.

Dontre Brown: Boisterous and energetic are the words I would describe this youth. Dontre is often heard cheering on his fellow youth members at the foosball table or on the court playing basketball. He has stepped up his game on numerous occasions, helping staff with camping trips and setting up over fifty youth to play laser-tag. A great youth leader, Dontre is an indispensable member of our Keystone Club and Youth Programs.

Jonathan Byles: Jonathan is one of the first to ask staff if they need help. An active member of the Tastey Tuesday and Foodie Friday, he can often be found creating his next culinary masterpiece. It’s always a pleasure to have Jonathan around.

Fallon Schori: Fallon is an amazing member of our youth programs. An active member of our Keystone Club, she is currently the Vice President and takes great pride in her role. She is also a wonderful role model for the other youth at the center and a pleasure to have as a member of our program.

Danielle Wright: A long running member of the Keystone Club, Danielle recently stepped up her game when she

was elected President of our Buckley Keystone Club. With great ideas for fundraising and community service projects, plus a knack for organizing, Danielle has a bright future in her role here at the Youth Center.

Jordan Aburto: Jordan is always helping with staff whenever asked. He works great with other youth and is always involved with our programs. Jordan is always in a great mood and never needs to be told twice to do something.  Jordan is an invaluable member of our Youth Center.

Photo Credit: Colorado Culinary Academy

Photo Credit: Colorado Culinary Academy

At the awards dinner, guests enjoyed a delectable dinner prepared by Chef Patricia Belaire, a renowned CCA Culinary Instructor. She was assisted by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rob Provost and Paul B. Stanley (USAF), two Veterans and CCA graduates. Also rolling up their sleeves were two Veterans currently enrolled at CCA, Mary Oulette (USAF) and Olen Bailey ( US Army). Additionally, several members of the Buckley AFB Kids Cooking Club lent helping hands.

CCA became involved in this annual event due to their continuous support for the military community. CCA is certified and regulated by the Colorado Department of High Education and approved by Veterans Affairs to train Veterans and their eligible dependents. This program, known as Vets to Chefs, prepares participants for a culinary career.

“We are honored to be selected as the presenting sponsor for this year’s Youth of the Year Awards,” says Chef Andy Floyd, General Manager of Colorado Culinary Academy. “It is exciting to be working with Buckley Air Force Base and reaffirms our commitment to Veterans, especially those who are in career transition and looking into the culinary industry.”





Photo Credit: Colorado Culinary Academy


Photo Credit: Colorado Culinary Academy


Photo Credit: Colorado Culinary Academy


Photo Credit: Colorado Culinary Academy


Military families enjoying their meal; Photo Credit: Buckley AFB Youth Center


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