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Breaking barriers

Andy Ouriel • Feb 24, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Most mothers see their children grow up at sporting contests, music recitals or academic events. But as a black woman, Yvette Shores chose a unique path to witness her son, 15-year-old-Isaiah Taylor, mature into a man.

About two years ago, she volunteered to become a scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America, Troop 44. The Sandusky-based troop operates out of St. Paul Lutheran Church, located on Mills Street near the YMCA.

Blacks left their mark locally

At a recent meeting, Shores frantically scrambled all across the church, ensuring parents and boys, ages 11 through 16, were prepared for an upcoming retreat.    She helped the 15 or so active boy members sharpen their skills, such as starting fires, shooting arrows at archery targets and learning about first aid.

While boys typically perform these activities on their own, a scoutmaster supervises and guides them. Shores is also the troop’s administrator, filling out and filing tedious but necessary paperwork to retain proper accreditation.

In between shifts as a hair stylist for J.C. Penney at the Sandusky Mall, she makes time each day planning for troop-related activities, despite official meetings only occurring once a week.

But all the hours she devotes toward Boy Scouts activities — without ever getting paid — is well worth it to her.

“I wanted Isaiah to be around more men and more children, and it got him exposed to things that I personally wouldn’t have exposed him to,” Shores said. “I’ve been scouting with Isaiah since he was in the third grade, and I’ve liked seeing him and the other boys evolve and get involved in leadership roles”

But others have noticed immense growth in Shores as well.

“She shows a lot of commitment,” said Gregory Eastlake, whose son, 14-year-old Joshua, participates in Troop 44. “I have been involved in scouting on and off for 25 years and never known for an African-American woman to be a scoutmaster. But it shows the Boy Scouts honor diversity, and it also shows anyone who is willing to step up and wants to be a strong leader can”

When asked, Boy Scouts of America representatives didn’t provide details of how many black and woman scoutmasters there are.

Eastlake also commended Shores for stepping forward to become scoutmaster when a vacancy occurred about two years ago — her first leadership role with the organization.

“She has shown a lot of commitment,” Eastlake said. “She is breaking down stereotypes by being a scoutmaster”

For Shores, she appreciates both the boys and fellow adults supporting her efforts.

“There is no way I could run this troop without the help of everyone involved,” Shores said. “I have an awesome support team”

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