Marine finds way to give back

Published 8:09 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fifty years ago, the Young Marine program was developed in Waterbury, Conn., in an effort to build character, discipline and leadership in young men in the community. Soon after, the program grew nationally with tens of thousands of children participating.

Darryl Davis, a Marine for 26 years, volunteered with the program in Norfolk.

“We realized it was a great benefit for the children,” Davis said. “And I wanted to work with youth, because I have a heart for youth.”

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When the program ultimately dissolved in Norfolk, Davis saw an opportunity to bring the same mission to the citizens of Suffolk.

Last year, he contacted staff at the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority to find how he could use the program here in town.

“I wanted to give these children here in Suffolk the chance to see something different,” Davis said. “I called and they said, ‘Oh my goodness, this is something we really needed.’”

Staff pointed him to the Hoffler Apartments.

Davis went without question.

“The environment basically determines who you are and where you’re going a lot of times,” Davis said. “So, I wanted to show these kids there is more out there.”

Davis shows up every week to the apartment complex with the SRHA sponsored PREP program — Positive Role-models Enhancement Program.

Taking cues from the Young Marine program, Davis brings his own flavor to the program, which is based on giving young males positive examples of father/older brother figures.

“These kids are wonderful people and they are our future and a lot of them are just looking for someone to love them,” Davis said. So, Davis comes in every Monday afternoon to work on schoolwork, hang out with the kids and even host special events.

“We do special things, such as taking them roller skating, things like that,” he said. “We just try and take them out of their environment.”

Davis, a member of Calvary Revival Church of Suffolk, credits his faith for a lot of his work. He also has supportive men from the church who will come down with him on Mondays and work the children. Plus, Davis works at the Marine Forces Command in Norfolk. So, he has had Marines come and volunteer some of their time out in Suffolk as well.

“What’s required here is a lot of love and a lot of attention,” Davis said. “If you can give that, then you’re welcome.”

The program averages about 25 children and has five regular volunteers. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, some of the children are even going to celebrate with their volunteers because their families will be working.

Currently, Davis wants to expand the volunteer efforts, but needs more volunteers to do so. If interested, volunteers can contact the SHRA at 530 E. Pinner St., 539-2100 or call Davis directly at (757) 642-6891.

“We need to take things to another level,” he said. “We don’t realize how blessed we are.”