MERRILLVILLE — Tom Sourlis and Susan Eleuterio have been described as a “wonderful couple … selfless … philanthropists to the core.”
The Highland couple, active in many community organizations, was honored Thursday with the Distinguished Citizen Award by Boy Scouts of America Pathway to Adventure Council at Gamba Ristorante.
According to 17-year-old Lillian Weihert, president of the Venturing Officers Association, the husband-wife team has “lived the tenets of the scout law and oath in your actions and deeds, and you embody everything a distinguished citizen stands for.”
An entrepreneur, Sourlis founded and chairs Mortar Net Solutions, a Burns Harbor-based company specializing in preventing leaks in masonry. A former Cub Scout and Explorer Scout, Sourlis has served with AmeriCorps VISTA to fight poverty and has donated to Nazareth Home, a foster home in East Chicago.
“This is such an honor,” Sourlis said. “Scouts do so much to get it right for the youth of America.”
Eleuterio is an adjunct faculty member at Goucher College’s Masters of Cultural Sustainability Program. An educator, activist and folklorist, she is co-chair of the board for Crossroads Fund, which supports community organizations working on issues of racial, social and economic justice in Chicago.
She also serves on the board of Illinois Humanities and has served as a board member for Planned Parenthood in Indiana and Kentucky. She has been involved in the National Endowment for the Arts and on arts councils in seven states. An interim executive director for Chicago’s Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Eleuterio is a regular contributor to Huffington Post.
“I’m very honored and humbled,” Eleuterio said. “It’s exciting to see the work of the scouts, especially with their extension into STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), which is a very important cause for young people.”
According to Jeff Isaac, executive director/CEO of the Pathway Council, this year the council served 23,688 youth, with more than 2,400 young people having joined scouting since September. The program involves 8,400 adult volunteer leaders, with 470 scouts earning Eagle Scout, the highest honor in Boy Scouts.
Also, Isaac noted, scouts last year contributed more than 206,000 hours of community service, worth an estimated $4 million. The awards dinner itself raised $55,000 for scouting programs.
As to the honored couple, Isaac said, “They’re planting seeds that they’ll never realize. A lot of young people rely on volunteers and directors in the council to make scouting happen. Honoring their leadership, not just in scouting but in the community, is exciting for us as a council.”