Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award: Cynthia Bennett

Our next award is the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award and I want to say a few words about the award itself and why it bares this name.  For each year we move a little bit farther from the tragedy of that day in October 2005 and it is important we never forget.

Jenny was a new member in our crew that year who was killed in a terrible car accident with her older brother.  Their deaths so upset the crew that the officers decided to conduct a driving safety campaign in three schools the following year, the most ambitious service project I have seen in 20 years in Scouting.  The following year the crew produced a video on driving safety, a video the crew and other Scouts have seen many times since.

This award goes to the individual who most demonstrates the spirit of giving, leading and participating in service projects throughout the year.  To keep track of who is doing what, we created a spreadsheet  to track everyone’s service hours throughout the year.  And I want four of them – who were the top service participants this year next to our winner – to step forward at this time to receive a special Venturing patch to symbolize the work you have done for others during the year:  Austen, Sylvia, Brooklyn and Michael.  Thank you for all you have done.

And now I would like this year’s winner of the Public Service Award to come forward:  Cynthia Bennett.

Cynthia has been one of the most active, reliable and good-humored leaders we have ever had.

And she loves to serve, whether it has been in leadership positions or public service projects.  Her leadership has included as Chaplain’s Aide, health and safety officer, crew historian and crew guide.  She also served as first vice president of the Council’s Venturing Officers’ Association.

She has completed Kodiak and offered to teach it this summer but could not get off of work.  She’s been inducted into the Corps of Discovery.

She’s been involved with almost every service project this year but what distinguishes the recipient of this award is not the numbers on the spreadsheet. It’s their attitude.

And hers is superb.  She always has a smile on her lips and a twinkle in her eye.  She and I have a back-and-forth joke whenever she says, Hey, Mr. Smith, which she will repeat endlessly.

Another point which I have and will repeat with others tonight is that she didn’t have to do anything with us this year.  She graduated high school last year.  And is a student at Midlands this year.  She has plenty to keep her busy.  But when a service project is announced, she will be there, whether its cleaning up the banks of the Saluda River or collecting food for our food drive our helping to provide fun for Cub Scouts at the annual Haunted Forest Weekend or to help out with someone else’s Corps of Discovery Project.

In fact, she’s been recognized before not just for participating in service but for looking for trash to pick up around campsites where we have visited and not just our trash.

She didn’t have to do any of it this year.  But she takes seriously the portion of the Venturing Oath that says help others.

For all of those reasons, I am proud to declare Cynthia our 2012 winner of the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award.


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