Erica Gillette (left) described scouting today while Margaux Winandy (third from left) traveled from Belgium to reunite with the Lake Houston Rotarians who sponsored her when she was a Rotary Exchange student attending Kingwood High. With them are Club President Kathy Lemman (second from left), and Susan Brodbeck, the club’s next generation service chair. Photo by Tom Broad, The Tribune
“One of the joys of visiting Rotary clubs and speaking about scouting is that the two organizations have the same mission of service to others,” Erica Gillette told members of the Rotary Club of Lake Houston at the Lake Houston Family YMCA Feb. 2. “In scouting, we teach young people how to take care of themselves, their families and their communities, the same as Rotary.”
Gillette described how Rotary and the Scouts have been partners in serving young people for more than a hundred years when Rotary was the first service club in America to adopt scouting.
“Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, and James West, the Boy Scouts first chief scout executive, traveled the country together establishing Rotary clubs and Boy Scout councils,” Gillette said.
Rotary has their “Four Way Test,” Gillette pointed out. Is it the truth, is it fair, will it build goodwill and better friendships, and will it be beneficial to all concerned?
“Those are the same principles in the Scout Oath and Scout Law,” she said.
Gillette began her scouting career through her church, eventually trading in her oil and gas career to become senior district director for the Flaming Arrow District which includes the Lake Houston area.
“Our one daughter is in sports and what she learned in scouting she has used to reinforce her talents as a player and eventually varsity team captain,” she said. “Our other daughter loves art and has been able to explore that while earning the movie making and art merit badges. One great thing about scouting is that we have something for everyone, even an exceptional Special Needs Committee that enriches the lives of youth with special circumstances.”
Yes, scouting now includes girls, Gillette said, “ … and this decision was made to be inclusive and help families be involved together. We have troops for boys and troops for girls and they are learning the same values and must complete the same requirements.”
Gillette’s daughter was in the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, leading a team that sewed masks for a small Houston school. Of the 38 chapters in her district, three are all-girl chapters.
The pandemic was tough on scouting, according to Gillette. Revenue dropped 80 percent. A 10,000-member Scout Reach program was canceled because schools were closed.
“But we are bouncing back,” Gillette said. “We are starting a Spring of Service campaign through April when our Scouts are committed to complete service projects throughout our community.”
Scouts built a butterfly garden at an elementary school, painted a middle school, installed benches at Lake Houston Wilderness Park, repainted the Sallas Park gazebo, completed a recycling project of plastics, turning them into benches, donated 295 pounds of canned goods to a local ministry group and picked up trash in East End Park.
“We always are looking for services projects so please, contact me if you have a need,” Gillette said.
“What does the Scout salute, the three upraised fingers, stand for?” asked Rotarian Eric Gomez.
“The Scout salute is the same all over the world,” Gillette explained. “The three fingers stand for the three parts of the Scout oath — duty to God and country, duty to others, and duty to self. The thumb and little finger together stand for the bond between all Scouts.”
Rotarian Bob Cassidy then recalled his past as a Scout and successfully recited from memory, the Boy Scout Oath: “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.”
“The world is a better place because you Rotary members care about scouting and care about your community. Thank you,” Gillette said.
As the Rotary meeting began, President Kathy Lemman revealed that Rotary International will hold its first in-person convention in three years this summer in Houston. Rotary’s 46,000 clubs worldwide include almost 1.4 million members and, already, 18,000 have signed up to attend the June convention, Lemman said. The Lake Houston club will host a June 7 night excursion throughout the Lake Houston area for a lucky busload of conventioneers.
Lemman welcomed back Margaux Winandy, a former Rotary Youth Exchange student from Belgium who spent 10 months attending Kingwood Park High as a foreign exchange student. Winandy is in her third year attending medical school at the University of Liege in Belgium. She plans to become a cardiologist.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Chris Johnsen asked for volunteers to donate an hour a month to read to elementary school students in Humble ISD.
“Our club has a long tradition of working with Humble ISD doing such things as tutoring,” Johnsen said. “This is a little different from the past. We will be working with three elementary schools. One in Kingwood, one in Atascocita and one in Summer Creek. And we will read to the kids.”
The Lake Houston club had a special treat for Humble ISD students taking part in the Special Kids Day prior to the Humble Livestock Auction. Rotarian Mike Kevlin’s truck was loaded down with 57 dozen doughnuts for the kids, funded by the Glenn Redmon Memorial Fund held by the Lake Houston Area Rotary Foundation.
To learn more about the advantages of being a Rotarian,
Story by Tom Broad © 2022 The Tribune. Republished with permission.