Dozens of new Eagle Scouts from the Mark Twain District of the Connecticut Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America will be honored at a dinner on Jan. 5 in Farmington.
Manny Martinez, who as executive of the Mark Twain District, oversees Scouts in Avon, Bristol, Farmington, Newington, Plainville, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield, West Hartford, and Hartford, said he formulated the dinner as a way to honor the Eagle Scouts in a formal setting.
"We wanted to focus on our Eagle Scouts," said Martinez, of Bristol. "Only four percent of scouters earn Eagle Scout rank. We really want to highlight them. These kids are graduating high school and going into college and they put a lot of effort into this."
Eagle Scouts would usually be honored only within their own troops. This dinner, Martinez said, will bring all of the Eagle Scouts in the Mark Twain District together. Right now they have about 55 eligible Eagle Scouts with more to be added before the dinner is held.
"All you have there is just your troop," Martinez said. "You don't have other Eagle Scouts within the district that can share that goal with you."
They will also honor three individuals as the first members of the Mark Twain District Hall of Fame. The inductees include Walter Harrison, the president of the University of Hartford, Michael Nicastro, the CEO of the New Haven-based company Continuity Control, and Cyndi Vallario, a Scouting volunteer for the last 22 years.
Harrison and Nicastro are both Eagle Scouts themselves and Martinez hopes the Eagle Scouts use this as an opportunity to network with them - and the others who are attending - as sponsors and start to think about what kind of career they want to have.
"They can be role models and mentors," Martinez said. "That night, the kids can learn how to network. The whole purpose is to get the Eagle Scouts in a room with successful professionals."
Martinez said the event can also raise public awareness about the Mark Twain District.
"We're trying to get communities together within our districts," Martinez said. "We'd like to get all of our scouters, adult leaders, community activists and advocates to come together and really mingle and network and see what the future holds for those communities."
Martinez has been working with the Boy Scouts for more than a year now. He says in that time, he's learned just how hard an Eagle Scout has to work.
"They are hardworking and committed to what they started," Martinez said. "They are getting taught life skills. They learn to live and enjoy life. You're grooming young men to be successful in life and to give back to others."
Tickets and sponsorships for the dinner, which is being held at Farmington Gardens at 6 p.m. on Jan. 5, are available online. More information about the dinner is available at ctrivers.org/MarkTwain.