On a cool clear morning in February, supporters of Scouting from all walks of life in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties came together to celebrate Scouting, local heroes and hear from well-known technology writer, columnist and editor Michael S. Malone. The Keynote speaker, Michael Malone, addressed the 2018 Excellence Breakfast.
Gathering before 7:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23, over 150 attendees arrived to meet old acquaintances and make new friends at their breakfast table. Called to order by MC, Chris Smith of the Press Democrat, the breakfast began promptly at 7:30 a.m. with the traditional presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance led by Eagle Scout brothers David and Jordan W. of Petaluma’s Troop 7. Immediately following was an Invocation delivered by Rick Rutkowski. Guests were then served a full breakfast and enjoyed a few minutes to get further acquainted. As breakfast continued a brief video was featured extolling the values and impact of Scouting on character development of young boys and girls who participate in the program.
Following an impassioned explanation of why supporting Scouting in the Redwood Empire Council is more important now than ever, many attendees dug deep to show their fiscal support for a program that has been active in the Redwood Empire for almost 100 years.
Then all took a moment to recognize those Scouters in attendance who had received the Silver Beaver award, the highest and most prestigious recognition that a local Council can award for outstanding service to Scouting, as well as the North Star Award, a comparable recognition for adults who have made distinguished service to youth as a non-Scouter.
All this was a mere prelude to the presentation by Ray Leonard, Council President, of two local heroes who were recognized with the Boy Scouts of America’s Medal of Merit Award;
- John Garrone, an Assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 32 in Santa Rosa was the first to be recognized. His story began while at work, where he came upon a person who was preparing to jump from the sixth deck of a parking garage. He called for help and before they could arrive, he began talking to the young man, learning his name was A.J. Ultimately, he used a hold he learned in wrestling to prevent A.J. from going over the edge until the police arrived and brought A.J. to safety.
The other honoree, was Rico M., a Life Scout in Troop 707 in Santa Rosa. In the early morning of October 9, he was awakened to evacuate his home and leaped into action. He helped his family gather important mementos and documents and they were out of their house in 20 minutes. At approximately 7:00 a.m. his father returned to see their neighbor’s house fully engulfed in flames and figured that their house was the next to go. It was then that Rico arrived with more hoses and quickly connected them to form a perimeter of defense. He then formed a bucket brigade with onlookers. Using hoses, buckets and more he spent the rest of the day and into the night repeatedly battling back the flames. Due to his efforts, the family home was saved as the perimeter of the Tubbs fire ended just ten feet from Rico’s home.
After these recognitions, Michael Malone was introduced. He has a rather impressive list of accomplishments, including when he served as the nation’s first daily high-tech reporter, covering Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than thirty years. Initially with the San Jose Mercury News, where he was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, he is the author and co-author of more than twenty award-winning books. He began by commenting that the world so often just takes for granted the effects and efforts of Scouting heroes. Every now and again, we need to stop and recognize the contributions like the two heroes just honored. Moving forward, he spoke about the past, present and future of Technology. Beginning with the profound effects on the world by the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and more recently, the technology revolution, he believes the next revolution will be an even greater cultural shift. One that we are ill prepared to deal with. The rise of autonomous machines is sure to radically shift all our lives in the not too distant future, in ways that we can hardly comprehend. The time of having things done for us by machines will radically reshape the future of mankind. In the midst of all this will be Scouting. As ever, a part of the past, present and future, leading the way developing character and instilling values into a society searching for its way through the confusion of the ever increasing speed of changes to come.
By 8:25 a.m. the breakfast was completed with Chris Smith wishing one and all a great day. The participants quickly dispersed back into their regularly planned work-a-day lives. But on this day, for a few minutes, they were inspired and recognized the presence of the Boy Scouts of America in their community. The worlds greatest youth organization, an integral shining beacon of hope for the future.