A 40th anniversary ceremony is set for Oct. 10 in Clinton Township for Boy Scout Troop 390. It is a special needs troop in Macomb County.

A 40th anniversary ceremony is set for Oct. 10 in Clinton Township for Boy Scout Troop 390. It is a special needs troop in Macomb County.

Photo provided by Shirley Stier

Special needs troop in Macomb County set to celebrate 40th anniversary

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published October 7, 2021


MACOMB COUNTY — For over 40 years, Boy Scout Troop 390 members have accomplished much as a troop, working to overcome their disabilities.

The troop is a special needs troop in Macomb County, based over the years in Sterling Heights and Warren.

Last year was the troop’s 40th anniversary, but due to pandemic restrictions, an anniversary celebration was postponed. Now, the ceremony is set for Oct. 10 at the Mirage Banquet Hall in Clinton Township.

The troop, 17 members strong, currently meets at All Saints Polish National Church in Sterling Heights. All troop members, ranging in age from 30-60, have completed Eagle Scout requirements.

John and Diane Mahoney, of Clinton Township, have been involved with the troop since 1989. Diane is the treasurer, and John is a troop committee member.                                                                                   

“We operate as a normal troop; it just takes two or three times longer … to get merit badges,” Diane Mahoney said.

She noted many members have Down syndrome or a mental disability.

“Earning their eagle rank is a big accomplishment for these guys,” she said. “The merit badges take a long time to do. A lot of them now have about 80 of them.”

Diane Mahoney indicated there is no age limit for Troop 390 members; they are lifelong Boy Scouts.

“It’s rewarding seeing them accomplish their goals,” she said. “We work just as hard as they do to get the program to them.”

John Mahoney said members learn at different rates and have a varied range of ability.

“There’s a merit badge called Parvuli Dei given out by the Catholic Church, and for regular scouts they can get through it in a couple of weeks, and these guys take about four months,” he said.

John Mahoney added that to achieve Eagle Scout rank, troop members gather food and toiletries for various organizations like VVA 154 and for mothers who have been abused.   

The troop formed in 1980, organized by James Stone, who will attend the anniversary dinner.

The Mahoneys’ son was a member of Troop 146, a non-special needs sister troop to Troop 390.

“The two troops would do things jointly, and it was a great lesson in diversity,” John Mahoney said. “In the winter months, we started doing activities together, and it was nice to see how everyone worked together and that continued for years.”

Looking at Troop 390, John Mahoney called it a well-respected troop.

“We keep proving to people that we can do things,” he said.

In response to what the best part of being involved in the troop is, John Mahoney shared a story of when the group returned from a trip.

“I stepped out of the bus, and one boy with Down syndrome looked at me, and all he did was put his arm around me and laid his head on my shoulder,” he said. “That’s the kind of thanks you get, and it’s emotional.”

Over the years, the troop has visited places such as New Mexico; New York; Washington, D.C.; Montreal; South Carolina; and Sault Ste. Marie.