CHEERS to retired Marine Staff Sgt. Natasha Young, whose work with fellow veterans has been honored by the president.
Young, 32, joined the Marines after high school and served two tours of duty in Iraq. Her 12-year military career came to an end in 2011. The change left the Haverhill resident and Lawrence native feeling a bit out of place.
“When I took off my uniform I lost my identity for a bit,” Young told reporter Brian Messenger. “I didn’t know who I was.”
Volunteering with the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill helped Young regain her footing. She now works to help other veterans get involved with community service.
Young was among 14 women veterans honored with a Champions of Change award at the White House earlier this week. The award was created as part of President Barack Obama’s Winning the Future initiative.
Young said she accepted the award on behalf of American soldiers killed in action. Her best friends were in Washington for the ceremony, as was her mother, Rene Betances.
“It’s very humbling,” Young told our reporter. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me. I was the product of a single-parent home. I hope she’s proud of me. I know she is.”
Young does her volunteer work through the nonprofit organization The Mission Continues, which awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans.
“It was just a great way to give back to the community,” said Young. “I think everybody should serve whether you’re a veteran or not.”
Young’s exemplary service to our country and our community makes us proud to call her our neighbor here in the Merrimack Valley. We thank her for her service and congratulate her on a well-deserved honor.
JEERS to those who take the bait.
Some readers may be familiar with the concept of the “bait car,” a vehicle placed and monitored by police in an area prone to car theft in order to catch thieves in action.
In Lawrence, there have been a number of car break-ins in the area around Central Catholic High School. So police placed a bait car on Auburn Street. It wasn’t long before someone was hooked.
Inside the unlocked vehicle borrowed from Valley Towing police left a GPS receiver on the dashboard and a computer on the passenger seat.
Police say they spotted a person who looked inside the 2003 Honda Accord as he walked past, then suddenly turned around, returned to the car and got inside.
Police say they found Mario Figueroa of 178 West St., #2 inside the car attempting to pry the radio out with a screwdriver.
Figueroa had the car radio, the GPS, a wrench with four sockets, and three screwdrivers in his possession when he was arrested. He was also carrying a small piece of spark plug, a tool used by car break thieves to shatter car windows and help themselves to valuables inside, Officer Gary Yancey wrote in his report.
Figueroa was arrested and charged with breaking and entering in the daytime to commit a felony and illegal possession of burglarious instruments. Police say Figueroa is a suspect in other car breaks in the area but he has not been charged.
These kinds of petty thefts diminish quality of life for local residents.
We commend police for taking the steps needed to catch these criminals in the act.