Young Marines announces ‘National Unit of the Year’ - Natchaug River Unit from Danielson, CT

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The Young Marines youth organization names Natchaug River Young Marines the “National Unit of the Year”. In addition, Natchaug River Young Marines also received the first ever Director's Cup Award, and Natchaug River Instructor Sharlene Edwards was the recipient of National Adult Volunteer of the Year.

Joseph Couture, unit commander of Natchaug River Young Marines with Lieutenant General Richard P. Mills

Joseph Couture, unit commander of Natchaug River Young Marines with Lieutenant General Richard P. Mills

"I love this program," Couture said. "It's about the strengths of kids. I see unbelievable changes when kids step out of their comfort zones in order to achieve their goals.

The Young Marines youth organization announced the “National Unit of the Year” – Division One's Natchaug River Young Marines in Danielson, Connecticut, under the command of Joseph Couture.

The announcement was made by Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines at the annual Young Marines Adult Leaders Conference held May 9, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"I first met Natchaug River at the 50th Anniversary celebration in 2009 in Waterbury, Connecticut, and I have been watching them ever since that time," said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. "They embody all that best represents our program - from community service to Red Ribbon Week; from veterans appreciation to living and promoting a healthy, drug free lifestyle. Their success is a direct result of the unselfish commitment of their adult volunteers."

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. Annually, one unit is selected from each division. From these six winners, one is named the official “National Unit of the Year.”

"There is always such stiff competition," said Commander Couture. "It's so gratifying to be recognized for all the hard work."

Couture lives in Dayville, Connecticut, where he lives with his wife Deborah. For more than 21 years, he has been an employee of United Water Environmental. He joined the unit seven years ago, strictly by chance. He was spotted at a gathering wearing a Marine Corps shirt, and he was asked to speak with the Natchaug River unit. His first job with the unit was as a training officer. He was elected Unit Commander in 2012. He also serves as the unit's public relations officer, where he enjoys speaking about not only the unit but about the Young Marine program. He was appointed as the Division One's Commander in Jan., 2014.

Couture spent four years in the United States Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina; Okinawa, Japan; Po Hang, Korea; and was honorably discharged in 1983.

"I love this program," Couture said. "It's about the strengths of kids. I see unbelievable changes when kids step out of their comfort zones in order to achieve their goals. I know the other adult leaders and I have touched the lives of these young people, but they have touched our lives as well."

In addition, Mike Kessler announced that Natchaug River Young Marines also received the first ever Director's Cup Award, and Natchaug River Instructor Sharlene Edwards was the recipient of National Adult Volunteer of the Year.

Other Division Units of the Year winners are:

  • Division Two: Seaford Young Marines, Seaford, Delaware
  • Division Three: Orlando Devil Dogs, Orlando, Florida
  • Division Four: Douglas County Young Marines, Parker, Colorado
  • Division Five: Speedway Young Marines, Pittsboro, Indiana
  • Division Six: Eastern Mountain Young Marines, Pinetop, Arizona

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 11,000 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.

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