By Dale Jones
TRUSSVILLE — City leaders and supporters of the Boy Scouts of America met for the annual Eastern Area Mayor’s Breakfast Tuesday morning at the Trussville Civic Center. The event was an opportunity for locals to help financially support the 116-year-old organization that continues to teach and shape individuals to become leaders.
In addition to the buffet style breakfast, the festivities included an invocation by Jimmie Hale Mission Executive Director Tony Cooper, a special Honoree recognition to Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight, and a message from keynote speaker J.T. Dabbs, Scout Executive and CEO of the Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts of America.
During the presentation to Commissioner Joe Knight, he expressed the importance that scouting had on his life.
“Scouting showed me, and opened the door for me to realize that I was a part of something special,” Knight said. “Being that the Boy Scouts are a small league of excellence and greatness, it is my distinct pleasure to receive this award.”
Knight went on to say that the real honorees are men and women who take their time and heart into teaching a kid that they can be something special.
Dabbs, a Birmingham native who is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, and who has previously served the Boy Scout Council in Austin Tex. and Portland, Maine, brought attendees up to date on how scouting is still effective in today’s society.
“Our purpose is relatively simple,” Dabbs said. “It is not complex, but it is powerful – it is to build the character and integrity of America’s youth, and to prepare them to be responsible adults.”
Dabbs was able to tie his message into the purpose of the event by saying the undertaking is not one that they can do alone, but requires partnerships with individuals, churches and community leaders.
An Eagle Scout since 1981, and winner of numerous scouting awards such as the Congressional Youth Award, The Bronze Pelican awarded by the National Catholic Committeee for Scouting and the James E. West Fellowship, Dabbs went on to describe how scouting accomplishes their mission.
“Opportunities for these kids to work and serve with mentors helps instill self confidence, reinforce ethical standards, and helps young men carry these things into their adult lives,” said Dabbs.
According to Dabbs, the Boy Scouts of America offers a safe, structured, nurturing environment that fosters the initiative to learn and grow.
“We believe very strongly in strong moral values.”
Dabbs said that while there are other organizations that use teamwork and some basic skills, he said that scouting goes even beyond that.
“Kids don’t join the Boy Scouts to have their character built, they join to have fun. But along the way, through our outdoor camps, we give them the opportunity to have a great time and learn skills, but along the way we are reinforcing some very important values.”
Special recognition was also given to Terry Salmon, Scoutmaster of Pinson Troop 14, which holds the distinction of being the second oldest Boy Scout Troop in the nation. During his more than 30 years of being a Scoutmaster, Salmon has seen 50 scouts earn the Eagle Scout status.
“This represents a lifetime of work, but it is not a one man operation,” said Salmon. “Over the years there have been a lot of men who have worked with me. I couldn’t do it alone. It was a team effort and those who have helped me deserve this recognition as well.”