the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, on Saturday September 18 Troop 7 Ridgewood will recognize 5 Scouts that have achieved the rank of Eagle. Bruce Dickson, Cole Hamon, Paul Nasr, Matt Rusch, and Philip Williams all earned the rank between January 2020 and June 2021. The Eagle rank is the highest awarded by the Boy Scouts of America. Each Scout will also receive at least 1 Eagle Palm which are awarded for completing 5 merit badges over what is required for the Eagle rank. Nationwide over the last decade about 8% of all Boy Scouts have earned the Eagle rank, and only about a quarter of those Eagles earn a Palm.
One of the requirements to earn the Eagle rank is to complete a project. The Eagle project must be a significant project that is done in service to others. The Scout must identify, plan, execute, and document the project with a final report. During the project the Scout must demonstrate leadership by recruiting and managing people to support completion of the project. Adding to the challenge for these 5 Scouts is that COVID-19 restrictions impacted all of their projects in some manner.
Bruce Dickson’s commitment to the children at Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson drove him to do his service project there. The project goal was to improve the outdoor garden used by the school’s students. Leading a team of volunteers Bruce built benches, cleared and cleaned an outdoor courtyard, and erected a tool shed on the school’s premises. He also filled the tool shed with garden tools that the children could use in their activities. To fund these improvements, Bruce started a “Go Fund Me ” site and promoted donations by requesting sponsorship for an ambitious 100-mile hike in the height of the summer on the Appalachian Trail. Bruce exceeded his fundraising goal and gave the excess money to the school as a donation at the end of his project.
Cole Hamon wanted a service project that would benefit those with developmental differences. Working with the Director of Special Programs in the Ridgewood Public School District, Cole identified an outdated classroom that needed renovation. Cole transformed the space into a modern Life Skills Room that could be used to teach everyday living skills. The room is used to teach skills needed to live independently such as cooking a meal, making a bed, loading a dishwasher, and washing and folding clothes. Cole’s project included replacing cabinets & countertop, adding 5 stainless steel appliances, building bench seating and other furniture, painting the room, and outfitting the room with supplies. A letter-writing campaign raised over $10,000 for the project not including donated supplies and labor from skilled professionals.
Paul Nasr walks by the Ridgewood train station going to & from school and identified an area that could be improved to benefit appearance and safety. Paul worked with Peter Affuso (Ridgewood Public Works) to define and with Troop 7 Scoutmaster Mark Babunovic to organize the service project. The goal was promotion of pedestrian safety by passive diversion of foot traffic towards the sidewalks by using landscaping. Paul researched suitable plants and consulted R&S Landscaping to receive advice and ensure future maintenance of the site. Paul presented his project to and obtained approval from the Village Council. After raising money by making and selling masks needed due to COVID-19 he was able to purchase plants prior to the fall growing season and a plaque recognizing those who had assisted with the project.
Matt Rusch wanted a service project that honored our military veterans. He met with Ridgewood American Legion Post 53 and the Ridgewood Village Council to present his ideas. After collaboration with Nancy Bigos, the Ridgewood Director of Parks and Recreation, he decided he would fundraise to procure an outdoor stone chess table and stools (weighing a total of 1234 pounds) to be dedicated to all Ridgewood Veterans. To raise the funds for the purchase & installation of the table Matt solicited the community for donations of household discards then held a massive tag sale at Ridgewood High School. The high school Cooking Club donated baked goods which was a huge success. Matt worked with a mason to install the table with a custom brass memorial plaque in the courtyard of Ridgewood Village Hall and Library.
Philip Williams has visited the Upper Ridgewood Community Church many times over the last 11 years since it is home to both Cub Scout Pack 77 and Troop 7. He wanted a service project that would benefit URCC, and Pastor Nolan Palsma identified a deteriorating bench around the base of the flagpole and a side entrance that needed a walkway from the driveway to the stairs. The 2 parts of the project were different, but the required project management and leadership principles were the same. Seven workdays over 2 weeks with Scout volunteers were needed to rebuild the bench and install the 5 tons of materials for the bluestone walkway. The church mason Mario DelValle was critical to the installation of the walkway. COVID-19 necessitated a virtual fundraising effort that successfully covered the cost of property improvements.
All of the projects created lasting improvements to the community. In addition, the projects provided the Scouts the opportunity to gain experience typically not offered by other extra-curricular activities. The Scouts wish to thank the project sponsors, mentors, and volunteers that made not only these projects possible but also their journey through boy Scouts that led them to be able to achieve the rank of Eagle.