Honoring scouts and raising funds

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By The Staff

The work of the Boy Scouts of America never ends and their fundraising efforts continue with their annual giving campaign, called Friends of Scouting.

Paul Rhien, Northern New Mexico district executive, said many exciting things are happening in the district.

“We are more and more able to expand our program and include more and more youth from the Española and Taos communities,“ he said.

The regional efforts have introduced more than 750 youth from northern New Mexico to the scouting program. “We organized two new Cub Scout Packs in Chimayo and San Juan in 2008,” Rhien said.

This time of year finds local Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops celebrating the 99th anniversary of Scouting during annual events like Blue and Gold Banquets and Court of Honor ceremonies.

Rhien tries to visit every celebration, spreading the Scout message and seeking those who are willing to make a financial contribution to the Scouting community. He also doesn’t see the current economy as an obstacle.

“We are confident that even in this difficult economy that we will be able to raise funds necessary to be a quality resource for our units,” he said. “We will be successful in doing that if we are able to grow our base of donors from the past.”

Several volunteers who support Rhien’s work in and around the region were rewarded for their efforts this year with an annual recognition dinner.

The Northern New Mexico District Distinguished Service Award is presented by the Northern New Mexico District to recognize individuals who have demonstrated noteworthy service to Scouting within the district.

The recipients included Guy Baker for a variety of participation and leadership roles. His efforts with the Friends of Scouting campaign resulted in the highest contribution ever attained on behalf of his unit.

Laura Gonzales was a Campfire Girl in her youth and translated that to being a Cub Scout leader. She has dedicated eight years to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Explorers. She currently serves as Assistant Webelos Den Leader and Committee Chair.

The next award recipient, Scott Greenfield, was an active Scout in his youth, attaining the rank of Eagle. He has been working with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for more than six years. Greenfield, along with wife Karen, have organized the Pushmobile races for three years and worked hard to organize the “90 years of Scouting in Los Alamos” event last October.

Lorenzo Gutierrez was awarded for bringing new meaning to the term “be prepared.” He volunteered as an adult leader when his son was a one year old. He is an accomplished camper, hunter and fisherman, and has mentored young men and helped them learn a trade.

Grant Stewart and his son joined Boy Scouts in February 2006 and rose to the rank of Scoutmaster by November. Since becoming Scoutmaster, the troop has grown from nine Scouts to 27 and has produced six Eagle Scouts.

In October 2008, he had the honor of leading the troop, the third oldest Boy Scout unit in the nation, in celebrating its 90th year of continuous charter in Los Alamos.

Lee Sperry, an Eagle Scout, was recognized for providing exceptional support to the organization. He was a member of the Heritage Society of the Far East Council of the BSA, and served as a Cub Scout leader in Vienna, Austria. He is active with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Catholic Committee on Scouting, he helped organize the Conferral Mass at the Cathedral for Scouts receiving Religious Emblems in 2008 and was one of two committee representatives to the National Catholic Committee Training at Philmont.

Justin Tozer is known for the extraordinary support of the boys in his unit. He is skilled in teaching boys how to lead and then empowering them to do so. He goes above and beyond by attending the Scouts’ sporting events, providing tutoring opportunities in math and science, and helping them earn money for Scouting activities.

The District Award of Merit is a council award the districts present. It is presented in the same manner the council uses to award the Silver Beaver, a national award. It is available to Scouters who render service of an outstanding nature at the district level.

The award is made available annually on the basis of one for every 25 units in the district.

The first Award of Merit recipient, Steven Batha, began scouting as a Wolf Scout in 1968 and eventually attained Eagle in 1976. He has served in many leadership positions and like many others became active when his son joined Scouting.

He has organized the District Merit Badge Pow-wow, for three years and maintains the database of merit badge counselors for the District. He is also a member of the District Committee and has led the “Troop Committee Challenge,” training for the past three years.

He is an outstanding community member, has served on two referendum committees, the school bond committee and as a representative for the District Parent Council.

He is a member of the Christian Education Task Force and has led adult Sunday School classes at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The second Award of Merit recipient, David Seagraves, began Scouting as a Cub Scout and regained enthusiasm when his son joined Scouting.

His peers note his creativity and enthusiasm for Scouting is seen in the quality of his programs.

His biggest asset is a remarkable relationship with the boys, which provides a positive experience for each one.

 These relationships create a secure foundation for the organization, which has grown his ranks from 15 to 40 during his tenure.

The apparent wealth of volunteers in the area will hopefully inspire contributions for Friends of Scouting to establish programs in other areas.

Those wishing to contact Rhien about presentations, donations or volunteering in the region can contact him by calling 695-0766 or e-mailing at paul.rhien@scouting.org.