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"These Children Have So Little to Hang Onto at Times...."
Earning an Eagle Scout badge meant the world to 17 year-old Maynard Brown, a volunteer with the Cobb County CASA Program in Georgia. Giving it away 65 years later meant even more.
I made Eagle Scout in 1947. This was only one year after WWII. I had to work part time in a machine shop starting at age 14 to help make ends meet for our family, and it was really hard to get those last few merit badges. But I made it at age 17. The next week after my Eagle ceremony I went into the Navy.
After leaving the Navy, I was a cop for many years. I saw how kids fall through the cracks. Now I am retired, and recently started volunteering with the Cobb County CASA Program. I’ve always wanted to help kids. A case I have now concerns a young man, 10 years old, whose mother was killed when he was 6 years old. When CPS found him, the boy was living with an alcoholic and drug-addicted father in an old van. The court placed the boy in juvenile custody, and I became his CASA volunteer.
It took a little bit of doing, but after several months the judge awarded care of the boy to a custodial father, a man who knew the family and really wanted to provide a good home for him. His new father is a fine man, has a great family of his own and is a scoutmaster. The young man is in his troop and loves it.
I have to visit the children on all of my cases at least once a month, but I do it more often than that. When I saw how much this little boy—who had so little to hang onto at times—loved scouting, it gave me an idea.
I loved my old Eagle Scout badge, I was more proud of that badge than any of the medals I got in the Korean War. But I said to myself, "You know, that old Eagle Scout badge has been in the attic for almost 60 years. Why not put it to use?"
What I did was, I had it framed, then took it with me when I visited the young man. I asked his new father to come into the boy’s room with me and told the young scout this: “Son, this is my old Eagle badge, I want you to put it on your wall and look at it every day. I want it to inspire you to not let anything stop you from getting your Eagle badge, nothing! When you get yours, you can take it down. Keep it and give it to some other young scout to inspire him to get his." Tears came in the little fellow’s eyes and he vowed that he would.
I believe this little boy is going to make it. You can’t help everybody, but if you can help one or two, that’s the greatest thing in the world.