The Cliff and Jeanette Sommer Scouting Fund: A Childhood Dream Come to Life
When Clifford Sommer was a child during the Great Depression, he would watch his local Boy Scout troop’s meeting through a window because his family didn’t have enough money for him to join. His goal was that someday, he would have enough for his children to be in a Boy Scout troop. In 2007, his sons made sure this would be possible for much more than just themselves.
Rick and Tom Sommer created the Cliff and Jeanette Sommer Scouting Fund at the St. Louis Community Foundation after their father, Cliff, passed away in 2007. Cliff was an Assistant Scoutmaster and his wife, Jeanette, was a Cub Scout Den Mother for Troop 314 for many years. Both Rick and Tom were in the same Troop 314 well into high school. For them, the Boy Scouts were a family tradition.
Today, their family tradition still lives on in Troop 314 through The Cliff and Jeanette Sommer Scouting Fund. The grant that the Scouts received on June 20th, 2019 gave them the opportunity of a lifetime this past summer, as the entire Troop was able to go to the World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. In thank you notes written to the Sommer family, the Scouts expressed their overwhelming gratitude for the experience, all made possible through the Fund.
Along with making sure everyone in the Troop can go on summer adventures, the Fund can also be used to help purchase equipment, pay for programmatic expenses, and to provide a support for specific needs of the Troop.
The Sommer brothers have visited the Troop to speak about their mom and dad and honor their contribution. “The Scouts did not take it for granted. It means a lot to us that the Troop recognizes that we helped them do it, and that mom and dad were involved,” said Tom.
For the brothers, the thank you letters from the Scouts make it all worth it. According to Rick, “they bring back memories of the good times we spent as a family enjoying the various activities in Troop 314 and serves to keep our memories of Mom and Dad alive.” Both him and Tom agree that their parents would be proud to see the Scouts enjoying wilderness adventures, knowing that they were a part of making it possible.
In one thank you letter to the brothers, Blas Becerra, member of Boy Scout Troop 314 wrote that the World Jamboree was “an episode in my life that I would love to redo again. Even though that may not be possible, I made sure that I enjoyed the best of it.”
In response, Tom states that “every time we get a letter from a Scout Leader or one of their Scouts, somewhere our parents are smiling.” Rick adds that “the fund is an active and ongoing tribute to our parents. Tom and I are truly thankful to the Foundation for making this perpetual gift possible.”
The Cliff and Jeanette Sommer Scouting Fund has provided a legacy that will continue to honor the Sommer family for years to come. The St. Louis Community Foundation is proud to be a part of this tradition.
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