National ‘Adult Volunteer of the Year’ leads the only Young Marines unit for kids with special needs
The Young Marines youth organization has named its national “Adult Volunteer of the Year” –Vivian Price-Butler, 1stSgt, USMCR (ret) of the Central Maryland Young Marines. The honor was announced at the annual Young Marines adult leader conference in Reno, NV.
The Young Marines is an education and service program with 10,000 youth members in the U.S. and overseas. Of its more than 300 units, only one is dedicated to students with special needs – Vivian Price-Butler’s.
“There are so many great people doing amazing things with the Young Marines in their units,” she said. “I was shocked and very humbled that I was selected.”
Price-Butler is affectionately known as First Sergeant at Kennedy Krieger High School in Baltimore where her Young Marines’ unit is based. The high school is part of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, an internationally recognized institution dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with pediatric developmental disabilities and disorders of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system, through patient care, special education, research, and professional training.
Price-Butler’s Young Marines are living with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, brain injuries and/or intellectual disabilities.
“I have known and watched Vivian work with her unit for years,” said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “I am amazed at how well these Young Marines respond to her. She is an inspiration and a true credit to her school and this organization.”
Price-Butler is a decorated 26-year veteran of the Marine Corps who retired in 2004 after her last tour in Iraq. She found her life’s path after seeing the Marine uniform in a commercial when she was 14 years old, and since then, she has never wavered from her dedication to the Marines.
In year 2000, she formed the Young Marines unit at Kennedy. She does not hold a teaching certificate, so Kennedy faculty pitch in and help her develop lessons appropriate to her special needs students.
The Young Marines program emphasizes character building and service to others, and, as a result, Price-Butler teaches her Young Marines about the military and about basic disciplinary values such as obeying one’s parents. In addition, the unit does its fair share of community outreach by holding toy collections, sending care packages to troops and visiting veterans’ hospitals. They also take place in color guard ceremonies and march in parades.
A momentous occasion took place in Dec., 2011, when Price-Butler took five of her Young Marines from Baltimore to Hawaii to take part in the commemoration events for the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I have always felt truly blessed to be able to be a Young Marine adult leader and doing something that I love for this long,” she said. “After my retirement and the fulfillment of my lifelong dream to be a Marine, I never imagined I would be able to continue to share a small part of the Marine Corps and its honors, values and traditions through The Young Marines program.”
How it works
The Young Marines organization is divided into six divisions across the United States. Each Young Marine unit is led and guided by adult volunteers, some of whom have had careers in the military, although that is not a requirement. There are nearly 3,000 active, registered adult volunteers in the organization.
Annually, one adult volunteer is selected from each division. From these six winners, one is named the official national “Adult Volunteer of the Year” - Price-Butler.
The other five division winners in the 2013 “Adult Volunteer of the Year” award are:
- Division 1 – Aimee Fagan, of the Blackstone Valley Young Marines, MD
- Division 3 – Sammy Pierce of the Rutherford County Young Marines, TN
- Division 4 - Henry Gonzales of the Heart of Texas Young Marines, TX
- Division 5 – Patricia Borka of the Shiawassee County Young Marines, MI
- Division 6 – Shannon Orick of the Desert Young Marines, AZ
The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.
Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 300 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.
For more information, visit the official website at: http://www.YoungMarines.com.
Media Contact: Andy Richardson
Ginny Richardson Public Relations