The Sept. 6 Transform Westside Summit featured a panel with several members of the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA): Tracy Techau, scout executive/CEO; Faye Hammond, assistant director of field service and director of Scoutreach; and Marcellus Walker, Scoutreach program specialist. Also participating in the panel were Boy Scouts stakeholders and participants: Deitra Crawley, partner, Taylor English; Zachary Bryant, Scout with Troop 213; and Dr. Margul Retha Woolfolk, principal for M. Agnes Jones Elementary School.
“The organization you’re going to hear about is one filled with passion, filled with people who really want to make a difference,” Techau said, as he kicked off the presentation. “Our goal is to get as many children from metro Atlanta and the Westside at camp and in scouting as possible.”
With the goal of building character, life skills, leadership skills and resilience in young people, BSA strives to help youth reach their full potential. “We think our community, our state and our nation will benefit from creating more and more leaders who lead for the good, and that’s what we’re all about in scouting,” Techau elaborated.
Before inviting the rest of the panel to join him on stage, Techau shared a video demonstrating the impact and values at the heart of the organization. From leadership to loyalty, metro Atlanta Scouts echoed the words of the Boy Scout law as they reflected on the qualities that make them Scouts.
With 32,030 Scouts in metro Atlanta, 758 partnerships across the city and 8,500 volunteers, BSA is making a profound impact on the community and on Atlanta’s Historic Westside. To further demonstrate this point, Techau invited Summit attendees to stand if they had…
- Been a Scout
- Been a Scout leader
- Been a Scout parent or had a member of their family in scouting
- Contributed to scouting
Nearly everyone in the room rose to their feet.
According to Techau, some of Atlanta’s most well-known leaders have been scouts, including Dr. King, a former Scout of Troop 151, as well as Hank Aaron, Truett Cathy, Maynard Jackson, Ivan Allen Jr., Dave Moody, Andrew Young and more.
As the panel’s conversation continued, Hammond shared ways in which BSA provides opportunities for youth across all walks of life to lead, helping them accept responsibility and care about more than their own self-interests.
“Our greatest resources are people like Mr. Walker,” Hammond said, indicating her colleague on stage. “Mr. Walker, along with 13 other associates, actually go into the community and serve as leaders, offering consistent, quality Scouting. These are highly skilled and trained people who offer a program every week to these youth.”
“There are over 20 programs on the Westside,” Hammond said of the opportunities to get involved with BSA. “We want children to be involved in scouting. If there’s not a program that’s convenient for them, we will make one that’s convenient for them.” The Atlanta Area Council offers Scouting programs at:
In addition, BSA is working to begin programs at the At-Promise Center and at Hollis Innovation Academy.
As the principal at one of the BSA partner schools, Woolfolk shared her experience with and appreciation for the organization and its impact on her students.
“Scouting is extremely important at M. Agnes Jones,” she said. Woolfolk’s school reminds its students daily that each is born for greatness, a message she feels is reinforced by BSA’s investment in her students and the opportunities provided for Scouts.
“You know something is good when parents are coming up to us asking, ‘When are we going to get a Boy Scouts troop?’,” Woolfolk said, reflecting on the time before her school started its troop. “We are just so grateful [BSA] is at M. Agnes Jones.”
According to Walker, scouting creates productive, concerned, involved citizens in their communities. In his role as Scoutreach program specialist, he gets to meet with and invest in kids who are overflowing with potential, which he fosters in his troops. “In scouting, they can try things, and they can mess it up,” he said, emphasizing the importance of learning and growing along the way. “They develop confidence in themselves and what they can do. They learn to cope. They learn to solve problems. And you know what? It’s a grand thing to see.”
As an example of the greatness and character exemplified in scouting, Techau introduced Bryant, a member of Troop 213, who was deemed a local hero after saving the life of a fellow Scout from another troop on a rafting trip. Bryant credits scouting for teaching him to become a better leader in all aspects of his life, including sports, school, scouting and daily life.
“Scouting definitely means a lot to me,” Bryant said, recognizing the impact of adult mentors he’s had along the way. “They’ve played a major role in my life because they’ve helped guide me and lead me to do the right thing.”
Through opportunities like the International Scouting Jamboree, Bryant – alongside 45,000 other Scouts from around the world – has grown immensely during his time as a Scout, he says.
Bryant’s mom, Crawley, is deeply grateful for that growth and the values reinforced through BSA.
“I can see firsthand in my own family how scouting has helped me push and encourage and foster values that we’ve been teaching from the beginning,” Crawley said. “To find an organization like Scouts is remarkable. It truly is a village that helps you raise your children.”
A strong supporter of BSA, Crawley believes all children deserve access to organizations and programs like scouting that provide opportunities to meet new people, build long-lasting friendships, work together to be of service to their country and community and learn from positive adult role models.
As the panel discussion came to a close, Bryant led the crowd in the Boy Scout oath and law, which have been unchanging pillars of scouting since 1910.
Boy Scout Oath:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
Boy Scout Law:
A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Following the presentation, Techau took questions from Summit attendees.
When asked about the timeframe for becoming an Eagle Scout, Techau outlined the process, which can begin at any age but requires a minimum of two years and must be completed before a Scout’s 18th birthday. “Many of our Scouts begin at age seven or eight, and it will be a five-, 10- or 12-year journey, but it’s never too late,” he said. “We encourage everyone – if you have a boy or a girl – to bring them in, and they can become an Eagle Scout as long as they have that two years before their 18th birthday.”
A second attendee asked a question about girls joining the BSA organization.
“The organization is an inclusive organization – it’s been on a path to become inclusive for many, many years,” Techau answered. He explained that Scouts younger than 11 can meet as coed troops, and upon reaching age 11, BSA offers troops for boys and troops for girls. Last fall, Techau said they recruited approximately 2,000 girls into BSA programs and are in the process of recruiting even more for the coming year.
For more than 100 years, scouting has helped build future leaders by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun and adventure in the outdoors. According to the organization’s website, BSA trains youth in responsible citizenship, character development and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. In metro Atlanta, scouting serves youth in 13 counties.
Opening Devotion with Dr. Leroy Wright Jr.
Dr. Leroy Wright Jr., pastor at First Thessalonian Missionary Baptist Church, shared an inspirational message about transformative authority, which he explained is rooted in servant leadership. He challenged Summit attendees and Westside Future Fund to strive to be servants with influence by demonstrating faithful trust and disarming defense by conveying respect.
Additional Summit Highlights
- Westside Future Fund celebrated a special milestone for the Anti-Displacement Tax Fund (ADTF) program by recognizing the 100th resident to be enrolled, Ms. Cheryl Hood. Hood is a long-time resident of English Avenue and currently lives in Vine City where she is raising her four grandchildren. After being displaced when her English Avenue home was flooded, she was blessed to be relocated to Vine City and was presented her keys by former Mayor Shirley Franklin. The ADTF program currently serves 101 residents. To learn more about the program and to see if you qualify, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The next Westside Future Fund (WFF) Volunteer Day of Service will be on Saturday, Sept. 28. Register here.
- Free shuttle to the Summit: The Cute Shuttle offers free, scheduled pickups on the Westside to help residents get to and from Summit events on the first and third Fridays of the month. Learn more.
- Next Summit: Friday, Sept. 20. Register here.
- The Home Depot Gift Card Raffle: Summit attendees who are current Westside residents or who work for a nonprofit serving Westside neighborhoods have a chance to win a $50 gift card from The Home Depot at each Summit event. Congratulations to Omara Ramsey, the Sept. 6 winner, pictured below.
Transform Westside Summit – Friday, September 6
Transform Westside Summit – Friday, September 6 About the Transform Westside Summit: Westside Future Fund’s Transform Westside Summit is held on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month and is free and open to the public. Our audience includes a diverse group of stakeholders. Longtime neighborhood residents, community and faith leaders, heads of non-profits and corporate executives come together to share success stories and discuss challenges that currently affect our Westside neighborhoods. Doors open at 7:00 a.m. and meetings begin promptly at 7:15 a.m. with morning devotion,* presented by a member of the historic Westside community, and complimentary breakfast, provided by Summit sponsor Chick-fil-A. Special Event: Atlanta Technical College Enrollment Atlanta Technical College (ATC) is bringing its Wednesday Works recruiting and enrollment event to the Summit. Typically hosted on Wednesdays on the ATC campus, representatives will be on site during the Friday morning Summit sharing about how prospective students can get started at Atlanta Tech. Those who apply at the Summit will have their ATC application fee waived. Take a Free Shuttle to the Summit A free shuttle will do scheduled pickups on the Westside to help you get to the Summit. Summit Shuttle Pickup Locations: At-Promise Center (740 Cameron Madison Alexander Boulevard, NW); Hollis Innovation Academy (225 James P. Brawley Drive, NW). Pickup Times: 6:50 AM – 7AM. Many in our community are driven by their spiritual faith to participate in the Westside revitalization effort. The time at the beginning of our meetings is an opportunity to share various inspirational reflections. While the speakers may articulate their personal faith, it is meant to be inclusive, inspiring and meaningful. All are welcome.
Posted by Westside Future Fund on Friday, September 6, 2019