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Spadafora honored by Boy Scouts for service

by on May 10, 2014 10:59 AM


That was the recurring theme Friday at the 14th Annual William Penn Luncheon, where the Laurel Highlands Council of the Boy Scouts of America named Indiana businessman Charles A. Spadafora as this year’s recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Citizen Award.

The award recognizes noteworthy and extraordinary leadership, and the value of that leadership — a main principle of the Boy Scouts — was brought up again and again by speakers during the luncheon.

Bernie Lockard, president of the Laurel Highlands Council, presented Spadafora with the McCombie Scout Bell, which symbolizes the Distinguished Citizen Award.

“Chuck has served as a great leader in this community,” Lockard said. “The Spadafora family have served as great leaders in this community. They live here, they work here, and they support this community.”

Lockard noted that Spadafora’s father, Cecil Spadafora, had previously been awarded the honor of Distinguished Citizen by the council.

Cecil Spadafora was honored in 2002.

[PHOTO: Present at the Distinguished Citizen Award Luncheon were, from left, Bernie Lockard, president of the Laurel Highlands Council; Sam Phillips, campaign chairman; honoree Chuck Spadafora; Alby Oxenreiter, featured speaker; and Tim Garber, Laurel Highlands Council executive. (Jamie Empfield/Gazette photo)]

In accepting the award, Spadafora said he has been involved in Scouting since he attended a Jamboree in the 1950s. As a youth, he was a member of Troop 29, Indiana.

“I was very humbled with the selection, and I’m also very proud. The Scouting organization has been a part of my life since a long time ago,” Spadafora said.

The Boy Scouts taught Spadafora principles that have stuck.

“I think earning those merit badges, learning how to tie knots and do this and do that, kind of helps build your confidence.”

Most importantly, though, is the principle of leadership.

“We don’t have many places that we teach leadership,” Spadafora said. “I wonder if, the more technical we get with (the Internet) and so, the less inter-communications we have with people, the less opportunities to learn that leadership.”

Payton Smith, Life Scout in Troop 29, who spoke at the event, also emphasized the importance of leadership to Scouting.

Smith was a staff member at the National Jamboree, where he served as correspondent for the Jamboree Today broadcasts conducting interviews and reporting news of the day.

“If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this today,” Smith said, “it’s that Scouting offers young men opportunities they could receive nowhere else.”

Smith, who talked about his experiences at two Boy Scout Jamborees he attended, quoted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who spoke at the 2010 Jamboree, in saying that “Scouting was the first and only leadership course that he took.”

The Scouting program allows Scouts like him, he said, to experience opportunities that his peers may not ever experience.

“It’s exposed me to a myriad of opportunities,” Smith said. “(Scouting has) given me an opportunity to lead my fellow Scouts and to learn from them and it’s given me an opportunity to grow as a citizen of the United States and as a future leader.”

Alby Oxenreiter, sports director at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh, spoke about his history and his career, and what it took for him to get to what he calls his “dream” job.

“Find a way to get there” was his message to the audience and to current and future Boy Scouts.

On Spadafora’s award, Oxenreiter said that “it’s not worth having your success unless you’re willing to give it back.”

And Spadafora gives back.

Spadafora has previously served in roles such as director for S&T Bank until March of this year; president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce; has served on the United Way of Indiana County; and also has supported numerous organizations such as the St. Vincent De Paul Society in Indiana.

He’s also been instrumental in the support for both youth and collegiate sports in the area.

During the event, Dan Fleming, Laurel Highlands Council’s district chairman, announced the creation of the Roger Reschini Scouting Society. He also displayed the society’s new inaugural plaque, in which Spadafora’s name was the first to be inscribed.

Endowments he said ensure the future of Scouting. Through a special endowment fund that honors the late Reschini, and “through the generosity of some residents of Indiana County,” Fleming said, the society was made possible.

“Roger did so much for Scouting in Indiana and for the community,” Fleming said.

Reschini was awarded the McCombie Scout Bell for the Distinguished Citizen Award in 2009.

Other recipients of the award include Ed Bratton, Andrew Kuzneski Jr., James C. Miller, Sen. Don White, Major Gen. Rod Ruddock, Christine Toretti, Steve Wolfe, Lockard, David Frick, Harry and Dr. Ann Wilmoth and, last year, the Patchin family.

All of these award recipients are noted for their dedication to their communities, a quality that contributed to Spadafora’s earning of this year’s award, in addition to his support for various organizations in Indiana.

The fact that both Spadafora and his father have now received the award “speaks to the character of this family,” Lockard said.

“I don’t know of anybody that’s written a current history of Indiana County, but one thing’s for sure: Somebody will someday, and the Spadafora name is going to be through that book in a lot of places,” he said.

Other speakers included this year’s campaign chairman, Sam Phillips, IUP assistant vice president for administration and Kovalchick Complex contract administrator; and Tim Garber, Laurel Highlands Council Scout executive from Pittsburgh.

Ellen Matis is the digital media coordinator and a staff writer at The Indiana Gazette. She is the person behind the Gazette's social media. A 2012 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ellen has a degree in journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter, @EllenMatis, or email her at
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