An interview with the Delaware Boys & Girls Club 2013 Military Youth of the Year

Thirk Hayes of Magnolia has the distinction of being selected by the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware as its 2013 Military Youth of the Year.

The son of U.S. Air Force retiree Wilbur Hayes Jr. and his wife Kathy, Thirk was selected because of his work with other children of U.S. military personnel and of his involvement with the Youth Center at Dover Air Force Base.

Children of military personnel face many of the same problems and questions as other youth, but also have to deal with frequent moves, the loss of friends, separation from parents and having to cope with the stress of one or both parents being sent to combat zones.

According to Boys and Girls Club of Delaware marketing and communications director Amy Perkins, Thirk was recognized for his "attention to detail, his organizational skills and his moral integrity."

Q Has having a parent in the military helped shape who you are?

A Yes. Every weekend when I have free time, I go to Dover AFB and make friends with the kids at the Youth Center. It's kind of my getaway place. I saw programs there that got me involved in community service and helping others. That showed me I could be a good influence on others.

Q What does being the Boys & Girls Club's 2013 Military Youth of the Year mean to you?

A It means that I can be a role model to others. If kids look up to me, and they see I was able to do this, they might want to follow.

Q Does that put a lot of pressure on you?

A Yes. I'm only human, and I know if I mess up, it might have a big impact on someone else.

Q Why is it so important for you to be a part of the community at the Youth Center?

A I feel obligated to give back. That's where I've grown up and was raised to become a mature young adult. I would recommend it because it gives you experience in helping people.

Q What are your plans for the future?

A I plan to go to college and study music and video production. I also was thinking about going to the Air Force Academy and becoming an officer.