Alvin Townley has always known how important the Boy Scouts of America is to him.
As an Eagle Scout in Atlanta, he had witnessed firsthand the countless hours of service he and other Scouts put into their communities through projects, events and fundraisers, but as a young adult, he realized that, outside of Scouting, the organization's impact on America wasn't widely known.
So he decided to change that.
"Adventure is what scouting is about," Townley told those gathered at the Tuscarora Council Friends of Scouting kickoff event Tuesday at Walnut Creek Country Club, where he was the guest speaker. "It's about pursuing what you're passionate about."
And it turned out Townley was passionate about telling the Scouting story to the masses. So passionate, actually, that he sold his house and quit his job to hit the road to answer one question: What does Scouting mean?
Townley's travels took him across the world and revealed stories of Scouts who had emerged as leaders everywhere, from volunteers at the World Trade Center in New York City in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to presidential candidates.
The stories and people he met led to two books on Scouting, "Legacy of Honor" and "Spirit of Adventure."
"People who Scout make very significant differences in their communities and America needed to know that," he said.
Townley also heralded the communities which, in turn, supported the Boy Scouts of America.
"So often people think of Scouting as just a troop and they don't think beyond that, but it's a community effort."
That effort was kicked off at the Friends of Scouting banquet with initial pledges for the organization totaling $162,110 -- putting the council more than halfway toward its goal to raise more than $300,000.
Tuscarora Council President Danny Jackson addressed those gathered whom he said were to thank for helping to fund the council, which in turn provided a total of 13,973 service hours to the communities in the four-county council.
Following the event, he said more than 90 percent of the council's budget comes from Friends of Scouting, with the remainder of the money coming from the United Way.
"The people in Wayne County have always been good to Scouting," he said.
Jackson said the perennial generosity of the Friends of Scouting was what led to the annual dinner, which, since 2012 is the 100th year of the Eagle Scout, he said the council wanted to recruit a high-profile speaker.
Townley fit the bill and Jackson said he and others were glad to have scheduled the author and fellow Eagle.
"He's very passionate about the Scouting program and what it means to America," Jackson said.
Townley said after the event that he's also confident in how much of a positive impact Scouting will have on the future of America.
"Scouting has a dramatically positive effect on everyone who comes through the program," he said.
And the impact can be exponentially more for those coming from low-income homes, he said, citing a Sudanese immigrant he met in his travels who, despite his displacement and coming up in a rough project in Nebraska, ended up graduating from the University of Nebraska -- an achievement he said would not have been possible if it hadn't been for the Boy Scout troop he joined there.
A similar Cub Scout pack that began in Goldsboro in November of last year with a grant from the United Way could also have a lasting impact on the community, Townley said.
"It teaches you to succeed on your own merits," he said. "It teaches the skills and values they need to better their situation and go after the American dream. Scouting makes people entrepreneurs in the broadest sense of the word. It teaches you how to go out and make things happen. It makes the leaders who are going to shape this community, North Carolina and shape our world."