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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prescription for Happiness Found at an Eagle Court of Honor

Jon Skipper at his Eagle scout ceremony
On November 11, Veteran's Day, I had the privilege of witnessing an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for the first time in my life. The Eagle was Jonathan Skipper, the son of friends Walt and Irene Skipper. For his Eagle project, when he was still in eighth grade, Jon organized a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to benefit HOPE Network for Single Mothers, a charity I founded in 1982. Jon's efforts resulted in a gain of 31 new Pack n' Play portable cribs, dozens of diapers, sleep sacks, crib bedding, mailing supplies, and donations to benefit families headed by single mothers in the Greater Milwaukee area - a total value of nearly $5,000. John enlisted other scouts in the effort. The cribs and safe sleep education may well save lives in Milwaukee, where there has been a rash of deaths from unsafe sleep environments.

Jon unloading the truck
Randy Beier, assistant scoutmaster, Troop 183, said, "Only one of four boys in America will become a Scout, but it is interesting to know that of all the [male] leaders of this nation in business, religion and politics, three out of four were scouts."

At one point, a speaker asked all the Eagle scouts in the room to stand for the scout pledge. My own dear husband, Mike, proudly stood and recited the pledge along with the others. He became an Eagle in 1962 in an honor ceremony for many scouts at the Milwaukee arena.
Jon with cribs and diapers in the HOPE office -
"Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent"
Other speakers explained the Eagle Scout charge: to live with honor; to be loyal to family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation; to be courageous; to serve others (for a leader is above all a servant); and to have vision.

Jon's ceremony brought tears to my eyes. I thought: when do we ever hear idealistic words like those?  Idealism led me to found HOPE Network 30 years ago. Idealism keeps me volunteering. And I do not do it alone. Hundreds and hundreds of people have kept HOPE afloat for three decades.

One thing I have learned: volunteers are some of the happiest people I know. Volunteers realize that it is not "all about them."

I believe that Jon Skipper is a happy young man, and if he keeps his giving spirit, he will be a happy man all his life.

Thank you, Jon.

Jon with 31 cribs in HOPE Network office -
 "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

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