Simple recognition ceremonies can become powerful stories.
Large non-profit organizations often miss these stories because they lack a system to send stories to marketers or communicators, who would then distribute them to various outlets. Size and bureaucracy prevent the story from bubbling up or breaking through to the people who can effectively tell the story.
The Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, has the same challenges. But getting out of the office or any other ivory tower and witnessing a powerful story can be invigorating and inspire marketers and communicators. This was the case for me on Friday, February 13, 2009.
Each February, Cub Scout packs hold a Blue & Gold banquet to celebrate the anniversary of Scouting. Almost 300 people filled the commons area at Summit High School as Pack 776, chartered to the Uthoff Valley Elementary School PTO, held its Blue & Gold. After the Scouts received their awards, an assistant Cubmaster came forward to make a few remarks.
He spent several months working in Iraq in 2008 as a civilian working for the State Department. Before he left, the pack presented him with a fleur de lis-style carribeaner–sort of a key chain. Every day, he looked the Scouting symbol dangling on his backpack and thought about his son and all of the other Scouts and leaders back home. He remembered the dedication and passion of the Scout leaders as they helped so many young people learn and grow. He cherished the meticulous planning that helped make a 100-boy Cub Scout pack thrive. He valued the leadership and vision that kept leaders, parents and Scouts focused on having fun and developing values.
As the banquet was coming to a close, the assistant Cubmaster and his son presented both the Cubmaster and the committee chairman with an American Flag that flew over the United States Embassy in Iraq on September 11, 2008.
Eyes filled with tears, tongues were bitten and breathing was heavy and shuddered. Parents and leaders did whatever they could to control their emotions.
Here was a simple husband, father and Scout leader who spent almost a year away from all he loved. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. He had every reason to look out only for himself. Instead, he made a special effort to bring two American Flags back from Iraq and present them to two people who quietly and steadfastly made sure his son and many others could enjoy a Scouting program.
This blog allows the story to be told quickly and easily. As blogs and other social media become more prevalent, more of these stories can be told. These stories are like fuel that keep engines running at non-profit organizations. They help people who are already engaged become more passionate about and committed to fulfilling the mission of the organization.
I can’t wait to get the flag and certificate framed for my wife, committee chairman Michelle Mueller.