It is these attributes – along with a restless intellect and passion for serving his hometown – that have characterized Ward’s tenure first as head of Speakman Company and since 2010, Corporation Service Company (CSC), a leader for business, legal and financial services. In the community, Ward has been particularly committed to improving our schools and enhancing educational opportunities for children most in need, and he serves on the boards of EastSide Charter School and Learning Center and the Rodel Foundation. The following is the text of Ward’s remarks accepting this year’s award before family, friends and community leaders at the Hotel DuPont.
I am very excited about the Del-Mar-Va Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Last year, more than 10,000 young men participated in scouting across our region. In the City of Wilmington, the Scoutreach program ensures that all youth have the opportunity to join scouting regardless of their cultural backgrounds, circumstances or economic situations. Over 500 boys currently participate in Scoutreach in Wilmington, and this fall volunteers from CSC are working with Scoutreach participants in programs at Shortlidge Academy and the Ministry of Caring.
The proceeds from the Citizen of the Year event help fund important programs like Scoutreach. I am pleased to announce that this year we surpassed our fundraising goal of $80,000, and in fact raised well over $100,000.
The City of Wilmington is going through challenging times. Many of our city schools are not producing the results our children deserve. Test scores are too low and dropout rates are too high. The Boy Scouts are part of the solution. After-school and in-school programs that involve boys in new experiences, encourage physical activity, and help build character make a difference, and, when combined with quality schools, will put our kids on track to much better outcomes.
While at the Ministry of Caring recently, I met a 2nd grader in the Scoutreach program. He was bright, friendly and inquisitive. He is also at a critical juncture in his young life. Studies tell us that a student who can’t read at grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time. Add poverty to the mix and they are 13 times less likely to graduate on time. Although I only spent 20 minutes reading with this young student, I am optimistic that he will be reading at grade level next year and well prepared for the future. When I met him, I immediately recognized the EastSide eagle logo on his shirt. He attends EastSide Charter School where I have been involved for a number of years and have witnessed the Head of School, Dr. Lamont Brown, and his leadership team creating a dynamic learning environment. An EastSide education, combined with enrichment programs like the Boy Scouts, is a recipe for success.
I am grateful to be recognized as the Del-Mar-Va Council’s Citizen of the Year, especially given the caliber of past recipients including Bob Laskowski, Ernie Dianastasis, Tony Allen and Brian DiSabitino. However, the real reason for this event is to recognize the 10,000 Boy Scouts in the Del-Mar-Va Council, the 500 boys in the Scoutreach program and individual scouts like the 2nd grader from EastSide whom I recently had the privilege of spending time with. They are the future. They are the ones who deserve our respect and attention.