Updated: September 17, 2013 7:43AM
Most of us, at some time or another, have probably been aware of the way in which Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts volunteer their time, assist with special fundraisers, earn awards for special activities and are just all-around good citizens.
I have a great deal of respect for all the parents of scouts who involve their children in these outstanding builders of quality, and involve themselves, as well. It has been my privilege to personally know some mighty fine young people through scouting, and the ultimate attainment for those who are willing to put forth extra effort to earn boy scouts premier award — becoming an Eagle Scout.
This past week, a very special young man attained that very special award for accomplishing a project for some very special athletes.
Matt Petrovich is a member of Scout Troop 908 in Chesterton, and, in hearing some of us involved with Porter County Special Olympics moaning about the disaster of our storage shed and not being able to find the time or expertise to get it in some kind of order, so that what coaches needed could be found without tearing hair out, he began to do some research to make our lives more organized and less stressful.
When he first met with us to tell us of his interest in revamping the shed, he practically got knocked over by our hugs. I am sure that he didn’t realize what an extensive project he was committing to, but he stuck with it.
Before his undertaking could even begin, Matt met with his district’s board to get the OK that his project met the criteria for Eagle Scouts, which included a comprehensive written agenda and an oral test with the board.
Once approved, his real work began, beginning with finding sponsors to help defray costs for this undertaking. He said that it took a great weight off his shoulders when, after appealing to more than 20 businesses, he received the go-ahead from Home Depot for lumber and hardware, from LaBell Trucking Co. for plywood and more lumber, from Campland RV to purchase small necessities and from Strack & Van Til for snacks to keep his volunteers coming back.
Just organizing the project and timeline, as well as soliciting businesses and volunteers, had Matt putting in more than 25 hours. But once he was ready, the theme was “GO!”
First an empty shed had to be obtained to build the new shelves and units to house all the equipment, uniforms and awards gear, which thanks to Ace Hardware was a donation. Then the blueprints had to match the inside of the shed, and be capable of holding heavy boxes, and be easily accessible.
Since Matt hopes to someday be an engineer, he obviously had the knowledge, along with fellow scouts, to perfect our imperfections.
One thing we would probably never thought to do is build flooring in the shed to keep dampness and mildew away from our important items. There is even a built-in ladder to access the higher shelves easily.
Once the initial plans were done, the work began. With help from scouting friends and family members, the sawing, cutting, nailing, fittings was rolling. An unbelievable 136 hours of hard work went into the labor of love by Matt and company — and that doesn’t include moving all our possessions from our former shed to the new one, which I’m sure had them all shaking their heads.
Matt was especially grateful to the parents of our athletes who were thinking about their tummies and brought food and drink for the scout quality guys.
This past Sunday was the unveiling of the new awesome “digs” where the pride on the faces of Matt, his buddies and his parents was enough to put a lump in my throat. All the parents and athletes there were amazed and excited at the superb amount of work that was done to keep all of our equipment in good order, and dry!
When I thanked Matt profusely, with a big, big hug, he said, “This wasn’t just me. There were so many people that helped every week. I want to especially thank all the volunteers who helped with the organization and construction so everything went smoothly, the super donors for all the stuff we needed to get it done right, and Special Olympics people for giving me the chance to give back.”
All I can say is, God bless you, Matt, and all those who helped in every way to make a Taj Mahal out of a messy shed. Thank you from each and every one of us, and of course, you are my pet person of the week.
As I read about the young people in Gary who are determined to change the image so many have of their area and them, I thought what a wonderful thing it would be if we in Porter County organized a time or two to go over there and help them reach their goal. That would truly be a way to bring irrational racism to a halt.
Think about it, and I’ll be looking into how and where it can happen.
Then I hope you have a great day because you deserve it. Thanks for reading. Fly your flag.