772 is More Than an Area Code:
It’s a New Way of Life
View the article at TC Palm: Anthony Westbury:
Troop 772 Coverage From TC Palm
Troop 772 Goes To Washington
Fort Pierce group hopes to rebuild the village one Scout at a time – Thursday, November 21, 2013
New Boy Scout troop is transforming lives already – December 15, 2013
Click here to read more news articles
There have been 137 shootings in St. Lucie County this year. Whether it’s a gang initiation, drive-by shooting, drug-related shooting, or whatever the reason, the number is far too high. Despite numerous town meetings, roundtables, and take back the streets marches, shots continue to be fired and the lives of young community members are lost in a wave of unnecessary violence. Gangs are recruiting new members at younger ages than ever before (some report members as young as eight), so it’s important to find other ways for young boys to feel a sense of solidarity, camaraderie, and belonging than by being rolled, jumped, sexed, courted, or crimed into the dead end life of a gang. While there are no clear answers, a small group of dedicated community volunteers working through the Van Duzer Foundation, think the answer may lie in the number 772.
St. Lucie County Firefighter, Rusty Hines, along with four assistants, has begun the process of training to become scout leaders for St. Lucie County’s newest Boy Scout Troop, #772. Targeting at-risk youth from St. Lucie County’s Dan McCarty Middle School, Hines and a diverse group of community members and dedicated volunteers including Scott Van Duzer, Dan Hafner, Fort Pierce Police Chief Sean Baldwin, St. Lucie County Fire Chief Ron Parrish, School Board member Troy Ingersoll, State Representative Larry Lee, St. Lucie County Commissioner Kim Johnson, and retired St. Lucie County School Security Officer Terry Miller met with a group of 51 students aged eleven to thirteen. Before the meeting ended, all 51 of the teens had signed up to become part of the new 772 initiative, and more than 27 other young men are working to get permission slips and guardian approval to join the newest Boy Scout Troop – one that will be decidedly different than most troops. Also assisting with the project is St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara. These community leaders are all joining forces because of the belief that quality time and role modeling are key ingredients to help curb the tide of violence which threatens our community and robs us of young lives with bright futures.
The idea is to expose the young men to opportunities and avenues of community service that are far more rewarding than the crime and punishment that come along with the quick and short-lived thrill of gang life. The group plans a monthly camping trip to help learn more about life skills and resourcefulness, job shadowing and opportunities to observe and experience a variety of career options, and a strong commitment to community service and sharing time and talent to help make the community a safer, stronger, and friendlier place to live, work, and play. And while Van Duzer Foundation board president, Scott Van Duzer admits the new 772 is not the only or most complete way to end the violence in the community, he feels strongly that executive roundtables and town hall meetings are not the answer either.
It appears many others agree with Van Duzer and Hines that even a small stone can create a large ripple. Since announcing plans to create 772, the troop, several small donations have come in from community members who want to help ensure the troop’s members have proper uniforms, registration fees, and a chance for success. Locally renowned philanthropist-extraordinaire, Port St. Lucie dermatologist Dr. Shamsher Singh, has agreed to match all donations that come in prior to the end of the year up to the amount of $10,000. So far, over $5,000 has been raised to help get the troop off to a good start, and talks continue with St. Lucie County School Superintendent Dr. Jenelle Yost, to help provide transportation for Troop 772 members to meetings and activities.
The troop is interested in recruiting additional committed, passionate adults who want to help turn the tide on the violence and destruction that is claiming the lives of our community members, and Van Duzer says anyone interested in volunteering should contact Scott at the Van Duzer Foundation at (772) 528-3467. For the past five years, the Van Duzer Foundation has found unique ways for everyone to positively impact the community and has raised and donated nearly $800,000 to St. Lucie County residents in need. For most of us, 772 is an area code and a way to help us identify where we live. For a few dozen St. Lucie County youth, 772 might well become a number which helps them identify who they are and who they want to become in life.