Owen Hughes, 14, of Bountiful, Utah, an eighth-grader at Bountiful Junior High School, converted a library into a music and game room at Valor House, a transitional housing facility for veterans, and then initiated a monthly game night for its residents. Owen has always had the utmost respect for America’s servicemembers; three of his great grandfathers served in World War II and his brother was in the United States Air Force. “So when I see veterans who are homeless, it makes me feel bad,” he said. “I can’t really solve their struggles with addiction, homelessness and mental health,” he continued, “but I can try to help make their lives a little more fun and help them form friendships.”
After gaining approval from Valor House administrators, Owen asked members of his Boy Scout troop to help distribute fliers all over his neighborhood, soliciting donations of games and musical instruments. He also placed a collection box at his church. After he had enough donations, he and some friends cleaned out books from a room that had been used as a library, checked all the games to make sure they were intact, cleaned the games and instruments, and organized them into categories. They also built an outdoor game cupboard so residents could play on the patio while enjoying the sunshine. When the game room was ready, Owen coordinated a game night, inviting members of a national veterans group and his soccer team to join veterans at Valor House for games, snacks, a raffle and two hours of fun. “The most memorable part was playing the games and laughing so hard we almost cried,” he said.