A Life of Community Service

Volunteering and being of service to others has been the life-long passion and galvanizing force in the life of Dr. Frank Scruggs, Ph.D. Through the years, he has been involved with many organizations, government agencies and projects that have offered assistance to the community.

Scruggs is a volunteer tutor in math, physics and chemistry at St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Learning Support Commons (LSC).  He is also a volunteer at the James B. Sanderlin Family Center where he tutors students in computer classes which are offered free to the community.

“I enjoy it and it gives me self-satisfaction,” he explained. “This gets them [students] exposed to high technology.”

His first volunteer project in St. Petersburg was at Wildwood Recreation Center, where he tutored adult students on various computer programs in 1987. Scruggs has had a successful and heralded career in the U.S. Navy and retired in 1985 after 27 years, reaching the rank of Captain. He began his military career at his native Santa Barbara, CA high school ROTC program. He went on to serve on the USS Perry and the USS Los Angeles. He was a naval seal officer in the then segregated black unit “The Black Frogs.”

However, it is his role of volunteer service that he is most proud of because it propels him forward and allows him to continue to give back to the community. By tutoring, it allows him to share his love of education while he encourages and motivates those around him.

Scruggs credits his family for instilling those values in him. His father was the esteemed Dr. Sherman Scruggs, Ph.D. who at one time was president of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MS; his mother, Olga Scruggs, graduated from Howard University with a master’s degree in music.

“To father, education was paramount. He said to me ‘no matter what you major in, get your education.  It will be valuable and you will not have to be a field hand or do labor work’.” Scruggs shared.

Those were lofty achievements for blacks during the turbulent times of the segregated 1940’s. He stated that his mother imparted in him that education was a special gift and an obligation that he had to pass on to his children and future generations.

Graduating Phi Beta Kappa, from Cornell University in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in physics, Scruggs then continued on to Princeton University, obtaining his master’s in physics in only one year. He received his doctorate two years later from Harvard University.

He has sat on the Board of Directors for Suncoast Mental Health Center, Advisory Board for St. Petersburg City Office of Aging, the Greater St. Petersburg YMCA, James B. Sanderlin Family Center Advisory Board and an Advisory Board member for the Pinellas County Education Foundation. The awards and accolades have been many and include the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, Juvenile Welfare Board South County Community Council Award and the St. Petersburg Senior Citizen Hall of Fame Award.

Scruggs continues to volunteer and is currently working on four projects: Retired Sr. Volunteer Program, Civilian Police Review Committee, Parents Support for Educational Council, Inc. and the Learning Support Program at St. Pete College, Gibbs Campus. He wants the community to be aware of the free tax assistance that is available where he volunteers at the Enoch Davis Center in St. Petersburg. It is called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and besides the Enoch Davis Center location, there are 11 more sites in Pinellas County. Anyone can call 211 or visit www.taxes-4-Free.com for details.

However, he is saddened by the lack of volunteering within the community.

“Everybody wants to get paid,” he lamented.  “There are time restraints, and people are working one sometimes three jobs to survive. We’re supposed to have more unity and working together. But not since integration, we’re all for ourselves. We should have more volunteers especially for our young people to give them guidance.”

Scruggs does not plan to stop his volunteerism anytime soon. “I’m going to wear out instead of rust out,” he said with a chuckle.

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