Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award 2017: Rain Sopha

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:  Rain Sopha.

No one here might be more surprised at hearing her name called right now than Rain.

But she shouldn’t  be because she is an extraordinary  young lady.

Most of the crew know she is a bit different, with her hand and arm decorating. She might read a big book of Shakespeare at a meeting rather than engage in a game.  She sometimes sits by herself at a  table.

But all of that belies an incredible hunger by her to help  others.

For instance, one day each quarter she helps clean a section of road for Keep the Midlands Beautiful by picking up and bagging  trash.

She is the member of her school’s Green Team: They do one or two events each year. This year she helped with the Cardboard challenge. A day spent helping raise awareness  for recycling.

She’s a member of Hate Won’t Win, which I really love. Rain and her Beta Club started the Hate Won’t Win campaign in 2015 after the shootings in Charleston. Since then she has been an active participant in various events to in1prove race relations at her school. She does various other service projects with her Beta Club as  well.

Rain also has volunteered at the Columbia Pride Parade and several other events such as IDAHO to support the LGBTQ  community.

In addition, this year she also helped with a clothing drive at Bethel Church in Orangeburg.

In the past, Rain has helped at events for NAMI, The American Heart Association, & Sharing  God’s Love.

Her desire to help others is a core part of her personality, her father says. Anytime anyone asks for help, she is one of the first to  volunteer.

Of special interest to me, Rain has self taught herself ASL and plans to attend Gallaudet University and obtain a degree in Art Therapy so that she can work helping deaf people thru any issues they may have.

She also was very involved in our crew service projects.

And it shouldn’t surprise you that when I asked her to write down her favorite thing about Venturing,  this was her  response:

“What I liked best this year was the number of opportunities for service hours,”  she said.

Rain has the heart for serving others in a variety of ways and this award is dedicated in Jenny’s name for those with such a heart. I am proud to declare Rain our 2017 winner of the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service  Award.


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