Honoring 'A Scouter's Scouter'

By Kathy Vilim DaGroomes
Illustrations By Joel Snyder

The Community Organization Award, presented by seven BSA national chartered organizations, recognizes an individual's outstanding service to Scouting.

Daniel Carter Beard, the first national commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America, was "A Scouter's Scouter" before the term Scouter—in the BSA sense—had even been coined.

In 1890, more than 20 years before the 1911 debut of the BSA's Handbook for Boys, the Scribner company published Beard's The American Boy's Handy Book, which offered 42 chapters of fun activities for the American boy.

Dan Beard played a key role in establishing the Scouting movement. It's no surprise, then, that when the Masons, a BSA national chartered organization, formulated its Community Organization Award (COA) in 2001, the related medal was called the Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award—Beard having been a Freemason in addition to being a Scouter.

The BSA's Community Organization Award is designed to recognize a person who has given extraordinary service to youth, and/or leadership in and support of a community organization's youth outreach through Scouting.

It all began in 1974

The first COA-type recognition was developed in 1974, when the AFL-CIO established the George Meany Award—the inspiration for the creation, in 1997, of the Community Organization Award. Today, volunteers from seven community organizations that are also BSA national chartered organizations, including the AFL-CIO, are eligible to be recognized with COA's.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks became the first organization after the AFL-CIO, in 1998, to bestow the COA on members—and the first under the then-new umbrella title of Community Organization Award. The Elks' related medal is called the Marvin M. Lewis Award.

The five other community organizations that have since followed suit include the Masons, whose COA is administered by The Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Pennsylvania; Veterans of Foreign Wars; The American Legion; all branches of the United States Military (by way of the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal); and Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity.

Several of these have struck medals for their respective COA, and all award the BSA's distinctive gold-on-purple cloth square knot—except for the AFL-CIO, whose Meany Award's red, white, and blue square knot was grandfathered as a comparable uniform recognition.

A standard of quality

George S. Sparks, associate director of the Relationships Division, with responsibility for labor unions and civic and fraternal community organizations that are chartered to operate BSA units, is adviser to the division's National Community Relationships subcommittee. Sparks explained that each COA is owned by the respective organization that awards it and that it is up to each group to decide who among its membership is to be so recognized. But the National Community Relationships subcommittee does have one expectation when an organization first develops criteria for its COA:

"Our expectation is that there is a standard of quality...it's not just a tenured award," Sparks said. Recipients of the Community Organization Award "need to do outstanding service in support of Scouting, essentially through the organization that's recognizing them."

(The BSA also requires that, in order for a national chartered organization to be approved to develop a Community Organization Award, that organization must have a minimum of 25 Scouting units. For a complete list of the community organizations that award the COA, please see the sidebar)

Now, meet a representative group of recipients of the Community Organization Award. It would take pages to cover a fraction of the numbers and types of BSA advanced training courses, awards, and volunteer activities to youth and Scouting through their respective community organization that these four men have contributed over the years, so we'll, by necessity, mention only a few main ones.

Suffice to say, though, that during their collective years in Scouting (137), they've been instrumental in transmitting and building up the values and ideals of the Scout Oath and Law in youth, while lending leadership and support to the Scouting program through their community organization to an outstanding degree.

Lt. Col. Edward M. Brown,
USAF (Ret.)

"Scouting develops character and forms leadership in today's youth. The ideals of Scouting [as expressed in the Oath and Law] are in stark contrast to what many youth are exposed to today. The Scouting program is an excellent tool to expose [youth] to both leadership and character traits needed for tomorrow's leaders."

Col. Ed Brown has held almost every volunteer position in Scouting except Tiger Cub den leader—on up to council president (of the former Heart 'O Texas Council, Waco, Tex.).

A onetime Tri-State Area Council (Huntington, W.Va.) representative for the BSA's Report to the Nation, this native Ohioan is a past president of the National Association of Baptists for Scouting and is its current national treasurer.

An Eagle Scout, Ed Brown received the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his service to Scouting in Korea and Texas. While in Korea, he served as district commissioner and as local point of contact to the executive offices of the Boy Scouts of Korea in preparation for the world jamboree there in 1991. Active in the Osan Air Base Scouting community in South Korea, he was a member of the Far East Council Executive Board. In Texas, he was active in starting several units, serving as a Scoutmaster.

Colonel Brown has been on four jamboree staffs, most recently as chairman of the visitor center at the 2001 national jamboree. He currently serves as an advisory board member of the Longhorn Council, Fort Worth, Tex., and is on the BSA's National Relationships Committee. His wife, Dottie, and Eagle Scout son, Ted, actively share in Ed Brown's commitment to service.

Capt. Frederic M. Sieg,
USA (Ret.)

"[I feel] strongly that youth need mentors and role models. The Scouting program provides this especially for single-parent families. Scouting gives Scouts exposure [to, and the internalization of] the values and character development necessary for a productive future."

Fred Sieg was born with BSA in his blood. His dad, Marlin, was the longtime (27 years) assistant director of the national Cub Scouting Division. With 46 years of Scouting, Sieg is a decorated U.S. Army veteran who received the Purple Heart for wounds received in Vietnam. He was awarded the Explorer Silver Award; and is a Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow's Chattahoochee Lodge 204 and a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 665. He is a lifetime member of the National Lutheran Association of Scouters and has been a member of the National Eagle Scout Association since 1973.

A former Scoutmaster of Troop 120 and now Scoutmaster of Troop 2, both in Columbus, Ga., Fred Sieg's leadership has helped influence more than 75 Scouts to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in these two troops. He is also Advisor of Venturing Crew 665, whose members are all Special Olympic athletes, including Eagle Scout son, Scott.

His fund-raising work with the VFW and Scouting has benefited the Chattahoochee Council's endowment fund, Friends of Scouting, and the James E. West Society; and his recruiting efforts (staff for Cub Scout day camp, council God and Country retreats, the VFW State of Georgia Team; as well as nominees for Georgia Eagle Scout of the Year) loom large.

A 100 percent disabled veteran, he spends—along with wife, Connie—"all my time" in community service.

Louis M. Garcia

"It's important that our youth receive the values of good ideals and principles—that leaders are truly solid role models. Our goal has been to raise good citizens for the short time that these boys are in our troop. I have been pleased to meet many of them [later in life], grown up and living decent lives."

In January 2003 the George Meany Award of the AFL-CIO was presented for the first time in New Mexico. It went to assistant Scoutmaster and union member Louis Garcia of Troop 95, chartered to Knights of Columbus Council 3030, Roswell, N.M. Garcia had been a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2577 for 22 years. "He has shown great leadership, and his involvement with youth is extraordinary," said Jesse Morales, president of IAM&AW Local 2577 at the time.

Garcia, who served in the U.S. Army from 1960-63 at NATO headquarters in Verona, Italy, has been a Scouter for 25 years, currently in the Conquistador Council. In particular, he has worked to enable at-risk youth to experience the adventure of Scouting. Geronimo Aragon, grand knight of Council 3030 when Garcia received the Meany Award, wrote at the time: "[Louis] has extended to many low-income boys, and single-parent Scouts, a rewarding experience. He has gone out of his way to secure uniforming for them and get them to summer camp each year."

A former member of the Regional Hispanic Scouting Committee, Louis Garcia has served on Wood Badge staff and has held many leadership positions in Scouting and the Knights of Columbus, notably as youth director of the latter. His Scouting honors include the Silver Beaver Award. Garcia first became active in Scouting when, as the father of two sons in Troop 95, he joined the troop committee. He and his wife, Kathleen, are also the parents of two daughters.

Richard K. Belmore

"Most young men and women in growing up want to display their knowledge and ability to do grown-up tasks. As adults, it is our responsibility to open gates of opportunity for these young people...The Scouting programs provide the vehicle which does this best."

Eagle Scout Dick Belmore is a motivator and volunteer extraordinaire, with optimism and energy to spare. The extent of his interests and involvements, and the number of his awards, achievements, and careers are impressive. Perhaps all the spirit he exudes was first triggered as a member of the national champion Boy Scout Bugle and Drum Corps in the 1940's, hailing from Rhode Island's Narragansett Council.

Retired from the Navy after 30 years, Belmore had fought in Korea and Vietnam, receiving two Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V, one from each conflict. An active Scouting volunteer in the National Capital Area Council, Bethesda, Md., in the 1970's, he was presented the adult Catholic Scouting Saint George Award by Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle in Washington, D.C., in 1974.

Belmore has worked with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts, and Explorers in various volunteer Scouting positions throughout the world and is currently working with the Circle Ten Council, Dallas. He and his wife, Patricia, have six children: three Eagle Scout sons and three daughters, one of whom earned the Girl Scout Gold Award.

A member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks since 1965, Dick Belmore was awarded the Marvin M. Lewis Award in 2003. He has held numerous local, state, regional, and national leadership positions with the Elks and currently serves as Elks southern regional representative for the 13 southern states. He once wrote a treatise called "Elks & Scouting," in which he put forth this thought:

"Our job as Elks is to sponsor as many Scouting units as possible and to recruit the best Scouting leaders we can find."

Spoken like a true Community Organization Award honoree!

Kathy Vilim DaGroomes is associate editor of Scouting. She also wrote the article "Downhill Racers," in this issue, the latest in Scouting magazine's award-winning "A Family Together" series.

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