Family and community are at the center of Teresa (aka TJ) Pierzchala’s world. So is volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America, which has led to her receiving a big award for her efforts with the organization.
The Oak Harbor woman was among six volunteers honored by the Mount Baker Council of the Boy Scouts of America with the Silver Beaver Award at a ceremony Saturday night in Mount Vernon. The award recognizes the distinguished service of registered scouters who have made an impact on youth through their service to the council.
“This is a huge, huge deal,” said council executive board member Rich Mueller, a winner of the award last year. “The area council cannot give a higher honor to a volunteer. It’s that huge.”
The Mount Baker Council of BSA has about 3,500 volunteers who serve Snohomish, Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties. Recipients of the award must be nominated by their peers, who must complete a lengthy application form detailing the nominee’s involvement and history with the Boy Scouts.
“The Silver Beaver is awarded to a scouter not only because they do a good job as a scouter, but because they’re involved elsewhere, too,” Mueller said. “There has to be significant community involvement and they must make a significant impact to youth, so it’s more than just what they do for scouting.”
Pierzchala has been involved in scouting for about 10 years. She began as many parents do – her son Andrew wanted to try Cub Scouts. When he liked it, Pierzchala became a Tiger parent, helping the Tiger Den leader. Her son Alex also became involved in scouting when he was old enough. She has held several positions over the years and has undergone extensive training within the organization. She currently serves as a district commissioner.
“I love watching the boys grow, helping them learn new things and become better citizens,” Pierzchala said. “Scouting has given me a better sense of community.”
“TJ has seen the impact scouting has on lives,” Mueller said. “She sees what benefits her sons are getting from it and she also sees the larger view, she sees the impact on society. It’s all about that larger picture.”
“I love doing community service and being a scouter gives me so many opportunities to help other organizations and the community as a whole,” Pierzchala said.
Mueller said it is humbling to receive such a high honor, because it comes from your peers. Pierzchala is now on a very short, exclusive list.
“Our records go back to the 1930’s and I think about all the people I know in scouting and how few of them are on that list,” said Mueller.
Pierzchala said she was honored to receive the award, but said she didn’t earn it on her own.
“Each of my family members and friends, both in scouting and outside of scouting, own a piece of this award,” she said.
Even just an hour a week, said Pierzchala can make a big difference.
“I would encourage every person to get involved in something to help others,” she said. “If everyone would give an hour a week (or more) to help someone else, the world would become a more peaceful world. When we focus on others and not ourselves, we are happier.”