By Bill Robinson
RICHMOND — Local Boy Scout groups to lose about $4,000 in United Way funding
A decision by United Way of the Bluegrass to end its support for the Boy Scouts of America’s Blue Grass Council will mean the loss of about $4,000 for troops and packs in Madison County.
That amount is roughly Madison County’s share of the $96,000 that United Way previously provided to the council that oversees scouting in the eastern half of Kentucky, said Dan Koett, its chief marketing officer.
That comes to about $20 for each of the approximately 200 boys who participate locally in various levels of Scouting, Koett said.
The regional council’s budget is about $2 million, with about 5 percent of that total coming from United Way of the Bluegrass.
The regional United Way conducts fundraising for a variety of non-profit groups, largely through payroll deductions with employers’ cooperation.
United Way has informed the Scout council it can no longer support it because of the Boy Scouts of America’s policy not to allow openly gay adult Scout leaders, the organization stated in a letter to Scout parents.
Under increasing pressure to drop its policy of not accepting gay youth as members or gay adults as leaders, BSA earlier this year dropped its ban on gay Scouts but not gay adult leaders.
Regional councils have no control over policy decisions by the national organization, said James “Chip” Armishaw, the council’s chief executive. However, it must to live with the consequences.
In Madison County, the BSA’s compromise decision has cost Scouting in two ways. Red House Baptist Church, one of five local churches that have hosted Scout groups, has notified the council it must find a new home for the troop and pack that meet in its building.
The other four local churches that host Scout groups – First Presbyterian, First United Methodist, St. Mark Catholic and the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints – have indicated they will continue their affiliation, Armishaw said.
More than 70 percent of Scout groups nationwide are affiliated with churches.
In the region, 20 churches have ended their association with the Boy Scouts because of the new policy on gays. However, replacements for all but Red House Baptist have been found, and the council is in conversations with potential replacements for it, Armishaw said.
That is an example of how Scouting supporters have come forward to help it face its current difficulties, he said.
“It has been a blessing to see the number of partners who have come forward” to help the Scouts with funding and facilities,” Koett said. “We are grateful to the United Way for its support over the past half century,” but the organization will continue through other means of support.
Whitney Dunlap, a Richmond attorney and longtime leader in the local Scouting community, said he was saddened by the United Way’s decision, calling it misguided.
However, “Scouting it too valuable to the lives of youth it serves for it to be destroyed” by losing 5 percent of its funding, he said.
Dunlap said he was involved in Scouting as a boy for 10 years and then 18 years as an adult leader. During that time, Dunlap, an Eagle Scout, had mentored 19 Scouts, helping them achieve the organization’s highest rank.
To become an Eagle, a Scout has to successfully lead a community service project, Dunlap noted. No other organization offers that kind of opportunity for a 15-year-old boy to develop values and leadership skills, he said.
Eagle Scouts qualify for initial higher pay if they join the U.S. military and enjoy advantages when applying to college or for employment, Dunlap said.
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6690.