Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award 2016: Erin Lesslie

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.

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

Erin joined us in 2013 and became our historian in 2014 and then president later that year. She was re-elected to a second term in 2015.

She’s genuinely quiet and unassuming, or at least unassuming. She’s a terrific leader and well respected, as well as tremendously active.

But here’s the thing, this award is not just for what you do in the crew. It’s also for what you do outside the crew and Erin has done a lot.

If you know Erin at all, you have heard her at some point describe her work with Camp HUGG, a week-long day camp for special needs youth. Youth staff are paired with campers for activities at Camp Kinard in Batesville­ Leesville and escort campers to different places, such as the zoo. She has done this for several years. If you want to see her eyes light up, ask her about her work with those youth.

She has also participated in the Bridge Building Camp, which enables youth and older adults to share stories and build relationships with each other.

They stay at Camp Kinard and visit the Lowman Home meet with seniors.

Last summer she traveled to Detroit for the National Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Luthem Church in America. As part of that gathering, youth participated in service projects in the Detroit area, helping to clean up yards and homes and make home repairs and improve the appearance of homes in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

She has done all this while not only leading the crew but also participating in its service work, such as Haunted Forest for Cub Scouts, our food drive and tobacco survey. Last year she was actually able to buy a pack of cigarettes. But she wasn’t so lucky this year.

If you get to know Erin, one of the things you realize is that she cares deeply about other people and is willing to act on their needs. It’s what makes her a superior leader and a wonderful young adult.

Erin has the heart for volunteering and this award is dedicated in Jenny’s name for those with such a heart. I am proud to declare Erin our 2016 winner of the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award.


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