BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — There are always special times throughout the year to recognize distinctive moments and achievements. The month of February is designated as Black History Month when the accomplishments of African Americans are front and center in the country’s consciousness.
Unfortunately, African-American history has been relegated to that one month out of the year, leaving 11 months of Black achievement to languish until the following year. Many achievements go unnoticed for years, although they impact the daily lives of people.
Take, for instance, a butterfly garden or handrails added to a church that helps the elderly feel safe. These types of projects are little-known events that take place in the Black community daily.
Meet Deiondrick Moultrie, a member of Boy Scouts of America. Deiondrick, known as DJ, organized and facilitated a project that earned him the highest rank and honor in the Boy Scouts: the Eagle Scout Award. Only six percent of all Boy Scouts nationwide earn such high achievement.
“Deiondrick is my first Eagle Scout in 20-something years of being a scoutmaster,” said William Gravely, scoutmaster of Troop 295 at New Faith Free Methodist Church. “This young man came to me wanting to quit every week. He was always doubting himself and his interest in scouting, but he kept on coming, making progress, and always having fun.”
Deiondrick got inspiration when he saw his cousin get his lifeguarding certification. Not to be outdone, he wanted to do it too, but he wasn’t a strong enough swimmer. He never gave up trying and reached the milestone the following year.
By the time he obtained his lifeguard certification, Deiondrick had advanced rank to Life Scout, one step before Eagle. His time clock was ticking, though. Once scouts are 18 years old, they can’t start an Eagle project.
Deiondrick needed to earn several more merit badges. Through the help of Darryl McDonal, Tim Bulu, Michael, and Becky McBride, along with their son Lewis, he persevered.
Along the path, Deiondrick had to face his fears and himself. For instance, he had to meet a requirement of repelling down a wall, which made him apprehensive because he was afraid of heights.
However, he got up the courage to strap himself into the gear, climbed up the ladder to the platform, and waited his turn. He overcame his fear and descended the wall.
“There were times when I wanted to give up right along with DJ, but the late Pastor Curtis Long encouraged me to hang in there. He said it was my job to take it all in stride and continue to grow myself and my boys in their ability,” explained Gravely.
For a scoutmaster, there is nothing like seeing your charges accomplish what seem to be unattainable goals and have them to look back in awe. Scouting is a journey and experience that opens an opportunity to befriend people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
Since becoming an Eagle Scout, Deiondrick is a student at Talladega College in Alabama. He is majoring in business and marketing and plans to return to St. Pete as a Real Estate agent and open his own business.
“My hope and prayer are that DJ will climb to high heights in all his endeavors,” said scoutmaster Gravely. “I want to thank his mom, Sharee Moultrie, for keeping him in scouting. He’s done well, and the gratification is beyond measure.”
To reach Dexter McCree, email firstname.lastname@example.org