La. First Lady awards military youth leader for service

By 1st Sgt. Paul Meeker, LANG Reintegration Office Public Affairs


NEW ORLEANS – The First Lady of Louisiana formally presented a special award to a special youth leader for her exceptional service to children of Louisiana National Guardsmen at the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge, La., Aug. 26.


Kelsey Roach, of Jefferson Parish, first received the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children – First Lady Award via a personal video presentation from Supriya Jindal while working at the LANG’s Kids summer camp, June 21, at the Feliciana Retreat Center in Norwood, La.


Since the First Lady was unable to present this award to Kelsey in person last June, she invited Kelsey and her parents, Kelly Roach and Sgt. Maj. John Roach, senior operations non-commissioned officer for the LANG’s Joint Force Headquarters, to the Governor’s Mansion to reprise the ceremony and get to know Kelsey better.


Kelsey began working as a youth counselor at age 14 with LANG Child & Youth Program Kids’ AT Camp. This camp focuses on helping children of Guardsmen, ages 8–13, learn what it’s like to be a Soldier or Airman in the LANG. Over the years she’s helped many children at Kids’ AT and Youth Leadership Camp, ages 14-17, learn leadership and team-building skills that prepare them for productive lives, whether they eventually choose to serve in the military or not.


After learning more about Roach’s work with the children of Louisiana Guard, Reserve and active-duty service members, the First Lady complimented Kelsey and her mentor, Angela Digirolamo Ott, coordinator of the LANG’s Child and Youth Program, on the important work that they do.


“It’s fantastic what you’re doing – what you’re all doing – for military families,” said Jindal.


After her time with the First Lady, Roach, now 22 and a full-time student at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette majoring in Child and Family Studies, reflected on the recognition she received.


“This is a great honor. I’m very happy to be recognized for what I love to do … work with children,” she said.


According to Ott and Maj. William Saint, director of the LANG’s Office of Family Programs, Kelsey has been an outstanding participant and volunteer with LANG youth programs for ten years and, in the words of Ott, is an “outstanding young person” and a “born leader and nurturer.”


The Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children – First Lady Award recognizes citizens who strive to make a difference in the lives of children. All award recipients have been nominated because they’ve shown devotion and kindness to the children of Louisiana.

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