By: Rose Sutkowski, Publicity Chair, Constellation District
On November 14, 2021, the Penn Wynne Civic Association and The Friends of Wynnewood Valley Park co-hosted The David Morley Barrett Memorial Dedication to honor David Morley Barrett, the Founder of the Friends of Wynnewood Valley Park. The special tribute took place in the afternoon and included representatives from the Friends of Wynnewood Valley Park, The Penn Wynne Civic Organization, several Scout troops including Scouts BSA Troop 176B and G, and the family, friends and neighbors of David Barrett.
David founded and led the Friends of Wynnewood Valley Park when he noticed a decline in the native bird population, which he attributed to the loss of native flora. He worked tirelessly to restore native plants and remove invasive species and inspired others to assist him in with his vision, including Scouts BSA Troop 176.
David was the sponsor of multiple Eagle Scout projects and had a positive influence on the Scouts he worked directly with. Through his guidance, they completed their projects successfully and developed enhanced leadership abilities through his mentoring. David set an example to Scouts. He demonstrated through his words and actions that giving back to the community is a lifelong endeavor.
Maria Cengel, Scoutmaster of 176G and Keith Cengel, Assistant Scoutmaster 176B shared their reflections and those of others about David with the event attendees.
Reflection from Maria:
I met David Barrett here, at the Wynnewood Valley Park, during a Troop 176 service project. It was obvious to me and everyone else in the troop that he was very loyal and supportive to everyone. This included his family and friends, yoga class buddies, the community and Friends of Wynnewood Valley Park.
After the first Troop 176 Eagle Project led by Brendan, it was clear that Troop 176 was now included in David’s circle of support. The project involved removing tons of knotweed and the planting of trees and David supported us every step of the way. We were his people through the entire project.
The Scouts BSA program teaches leadership using a Scout led approach. It was apparent that this model, Scout led, was natural for David. My husband, Keith Cengel, also an Assistant Scoutmaster, will elaborate further in his reflection.
David was the sponsor for six Eagle Scout projects led by the following:
- Brendan (Wynnewood)
- Joey (Bala Cynwyd)
- Jayson (Ardmore)
- Andrew (Ardmore)
- Patrick (Ardmore)
- Henry (Narberth)
These Scouts are all away at college and couldn’t be with us today to share their thoughts.
My son, Joey, wanted everyone to know that Dave Barrett was a kind soul, and a good man. Joey, said, “He helped me throughout my entire eagle project and was never once short with me—no matter how dumb my questions got.”
While David worked with my son Joey during his Eagle Project, I watched as my son, Joey, transformed before my eyes. David helped Joey build the confidence he needed. Joey started utilizing all of the tools he learned in Scouting and was able to successfully lead his fellow Scouts during his Eagle project.
The Troop 176G Scouts also worked on Henry Folk’s Eagle Project. This Eagle project was the last project completed under David’s guidance. I was very happy that my new Scouts were able to participate in the project, as David was a great Eagle Scout sponsor. His ability to empower youth to lead and bring positive change to their world will be felt for years to come in this community and beyond.
Here are other reflections from Scouts that I’d like to share.
- Mr. Barrett oversaw my Eagle project a few years ago. He patiently gave guidance to Scouts who can get quite unruly at times. He cared deeply about the park and the community that flowed through it. I have nothing but fond memories digging, planting, and hacking with my friends in the park. (Jayson)
- Mr. Barrett cared deeply about nature and the park, always ready to work and help where he could. He made the eagle project process as easy as possible for me, and was there every step of the way to see it through, from paperwork to completion. (Henry)
- David was a great guy and personable. He was dedicated to that open space and teaching about conserving the nature around us. He shared his knowledge on the topic of indigenous species; invasives and the practical steps to try to tip the balance back to the indigenous, particularly in the park. Our 176 Eagle Scouts became his disciples, the best kind of disciples, without even knowing it. (Troop 176 Eagle Scout parent and leader)
- David found the time outside of business hours (school and sports for the boys) to meet Andrew to help him create and plan a project that would help the community and fit within the Eagle project structure. He was always willing to go to the park to help the boys access tools and provide his advice on the dynamic schedule that comes with working with Scouts. Dave also helped Andrew find valuable tasks for the boys based on the various abilities of the Scouts that came to help on any given day. (Andrew’s dad)
It has been a true honor to stand before you today and share these reflections on David with you. Also, thank you to David’s family, community and everyone here today. Your support of David’s efforts allowed him to touch so many lives.
Reflection from Keith:
There is an old story about the New College Dining Hall at Oxford that was built near the turn of the 15th century—over 300 years later the great oak beams that supported the vaulted ceiling were rotting. The founders of New College, with the foresight to understand that oak trees can take more than 150 years to grow large enough to replace such beams planted and maintained a forest from 1441 onward explicitly for this purpose. This is one of the founding insights of Scouting—that leaders of the future must be grown like mighty oaks from tiny acorns: nurtured with tenderness, educated by experience and proven in the fires of exigency. This concept of providing for the future and paying it forward was something that David Barrett embodied in his work in this park with the many volunteers from diverse organizations including Scouts BSA, Girl Scouts, Build On and Students from Penn Wynne Elementary. Here, his work served an ingenious dual purpose: He simultaneously elevated and harmonized this beautiful space for his community to enjoy while educating, empowering and inspiring the youth in the community to continue this important work long after he had passed.
In addition to this concept of human sustainability, David embodied servant leadership. In many youth organizations, we strive to teach this concept; yet, it was some much more effectively communicated to them by David’s exemplification. Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term in his 1970 essay, said that “a servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong… The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” David inspired and enabled the volunteers and shepherded them to reach for their own greatness. It is said by economists that there has rarely been a famine so severe that anyone in a community would need to starve. Yet they do, because we are afraid to share, afraid to trust, afraid to reach out, afraid to love. Here, again in his remarkable courage in the face of adversity he showed the youth how to make every moment count, how to leverage all of your gifts to make a lasting difference for your community and how to persevere with a remarkable combination of grit and grace.
I will close with a quote from Winston Churchill that encapsulates our experience with David in this park: “What is the use of living if not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone.” Thank you David for these remarkable gifts.