#DaytonStrong: How Scouting healed a community after tornadoes, mass shooting

Dayton strong patch with Dayton tornado damage behind

There’s something different in the way Scouts respond to a tragedy in their community.

Instead of worrying about their own needs, Scouts exhibit a deep-rooted duty to step up and help people heal.

In the very embodiment of the Scout Law, they show what it means to be helpful, friendly, courteous, kind — and even brave.

That’s just what the city of Dayton, Ohio, needs right now. Just two months after a series of damaging tornadoes leveled homes and businesses, the city was forced to endure a mass shooting that left nine people dead.

When Dayton has needed them most, Scouts have rallied a community and provided much-needed comfort.

“Our Scouts are there to answer the call when needed,” says Jeffrey Schiavone, Scout Executive of the Miami Valley Council, which serves Dayton. “I have been extremely proud of the outpouring of support from our Scouting community.”

‘And yet they helped others’

Over Memorial Day weekend this year, a series of 14 tornadoes touched down across the Miami Valley Council area.

Some of the tornadoes reached EF4 strength — the second-highest designation on the scale. Winds of 170 mph or more tore roofs off of homes and even ripped a house from its cinder block foundation.

“Communities were devastated and still are a shell of what they used to be,” Schiavone says.

Just hours after the skies cleared, Scouts contacted the council to see how they could help. While rescue efforts were handled by first responders, the Scouts led a critical second wave of support.

“We saw Scouts serving meals to rescue and recovery workers and conducting food and relief item drives,” Schiavone says. “Some of the Scouts who participated didn’t have power in their own homes, and yet they helped others.”

After local food banks told the Miami Valley Council that their immediate needs were met, the Scouts weren’t done.

Through late June and all of July, they shifted their focus to collecting donations of infant items like diapers and personal hygiene supplies like toothpaste.

The plan was simple: collect as much as you can and bring the items to the lobby of the Miami Valley Council Service Center. They called the campaign “Load the Lobby.”

The council received donations from at least one troop from outside its boundaries, too. Let’s give a hand to Troop 731 of Clemmons, N.C., for sending a box of items from 420 miles away.

Raising hope

On Aug. 4, two months and eight days after the tornadoes, another tragedy befell Dayton. Early that morning, a shooter opened fire in Dayton’s downtown entertainment district, killing nine and injuring at least 17.

“Scouts and Scouters have asked me how can the Scouting community be helpful,” Schiavone wrote to members of his council after the shooting.

There wasn’t a need for donated supplies this time. So how could the Scouts help?

After meeting with officials from the Dayton Foundation, a local nonprofit, Schiavone and his fellow leaders decided on a special council shoulder patch.

The cost of the patches was covered by the BSA’s National Supply Division, meaning 100% of the proceeds will benefit victims and families affected by either tragedy.

The Dayton Strong patches cost $20, with $10 going to the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund and $10 going to the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund. You can order one here.

Schiavone says the council, through the patch sale, expects to provide a combined $6,000 in assistance to these funds.

“The call to service is woven into the fabric of who we are as Scouts,” Schiavone says. “Scouts are Dayton Strong.”

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.