MT. HOPE, West Virginia, August 1, 2011 -
The Order of the Arrow (OA) SummitCorps 2011 project conducted in partnership with the National Park Service and the West Virginia National Guard is completed, and what a month it has been! The combined efforts of the trail work and the overhead to organize this event resulted in 78,544 volunteer hours, which has estimated value of more than $1.6 million.
SummitCorps hosted 1404 Scouts and Scout leaders to West Virginia during the month of July, with a new crew arriving each week to construct more than 12 miles of trail at New River Gorge National River. According to Sam Bellomy, the Youth Incident Commander for week four, "It is amazing to see the willingness of the Scouts to give their time, effort and generosity to this community by building trails for generations of community members and for people across the world who will visit this area. Between the trail work and the charitable donations and everything this project has done for the community, it demonstrates the perfect example of servant leadership."
For the majority of the volunteers, it was their first time in West Virginia. They paid their own way to travel here and perform arduous trail work for free; leaving a legacy for anyone to enjoy for years to come.
However, the Scouts did not stop at just giving sweat equity to West Virginia. Each week, they held a patch auction to raise money for local charities and organizations. Trading patches-a time held tradition in Scouting, enabled participants to turn cloth into cash and patches into possibility.
Leon Brush, the Co-founder and Executive Director of Brian's Safehouse shared his thoughts about the donations. "The connection as I see it is that all of the activities that Scouts are able to participate in with the Boy Scouts of America, are opportunities that addicts do not have. Our ministry is to help those who have fallen by the wayside return back to the activities of life and become contributing citizens to the world we live in. That is our goal. To partner with the Boy Scouts and have them contribute to our organization gives us a feeling of elation, because we know what they represent, and this will help us to help others be productive citizens. We want these individuals who have fallen to return to the values that the Scouts demonstrate."
In total the Scouts raised $15,357.50 through weekly patch auction. The money raised will support Brian's Safehouse, Burlington United Methodist Children's Home, Just For Kids, Mt. Hope Children's Health Council, Three Rivers Avian Center (animal shelter for injured and endangered wild birds), the Women's Resource Center, and the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia, Inc,. Taking the OA motto of Cheerful Service to the next level they also raised more than $1000 through a bake sale. Funds from the sale went to a Raleigh County 911 dispatcher who is suffering from cancer and struggling with medical expenses.
Other organizations that benefitted from the four-week service project included the Pine Haven Homeless Shelter, located in Beckley, where 5600 pounds of food was donated which provided more than 100 people daily with nutritious meals (each meal provided 1700 calories) throughout the month of July. Local organizations that provide community meals and food giveaways also received 4200 non-perishable meals valued at more than $25,000.
The values of the Order of the Arrow members are reflected in the cheerful service they provided to the communities of Southern West Virginia. While the SummitCorps trail project takes the participant along the "Evolution of the leader" in four components, (heart, mind, body, and spirit), the overall experience allowed the participants to engage in a personal connection to the land, the local community, and to one another.
This is just the beginning of an ongoing relationship with the National Park Service, neighboring communities, and the Boy Scouts of America as make their new home at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.
Click here for some photos from Week 3 of SummitCorps.
Click here for the official SummitCorps website.