By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published April 5, 2018
ATLANTA—Young men who earn the rank of Eagle Scout are in rare company. It’s been reported only four percent of Boy Scouts achieve the recognition.
Two Scouts who are Catholic recently completed their Eagle Scout community projects that are the capstones of their Scouting experience. The two participated in the Scout Mass on March 24, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, celebrating the golden anniversary of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s Catholic Committee on Scouting.
For his Eagle Scout project, Joaquin Taylor wanted to do something to uplift people’s lives.
His family already helps at Blessed Sacrament Church’s food pantry. He brainstormed how to find a way to help the people on the streets of Atlanta.
“There’s a homeless problem in Atlanta, and we were able to help out with that,” said the 15-year-old sophomore at Our Lady of Mercy High School. “We were able to help a lot of people.”
Taylor’s project consisted of collaborating with Cycling for Good on its February ride through downtown Atlanta to distribute “blessing bags.”
The teen plays midfield on the soccer team at his Fayetteville high school. Taylor joined the Cub Scouts as a first-grader at St. John the Evangelist School, Hapeville. He is the senior patrol leader at BSA Troop 631 — Woodward Academy.
Cycling for Good is a three-year-old initiative of attorney Damon Elmore, who worships at Blessed Sacrament Church, Atlanta. The riders gather at Loose Nuts bike shop, near Atlanta’s Grant Park, on the third Sunday of the month. With a cargo bike and other bikes loaded, the group delivers healthy snacks and personal care items to people in downtown Atlanta. The causes of homelessness are complex, but the cycling project is a way for people to respond to an obvious need.
“It is paying attention to people you pass every day and learning names,” said Elmore.
Taylor appealed to his church community for donations. His fellow high school students packed reusable drawstring backpacks with useful items, including a toothbrush, soap, hand sanitizers and canned food. Socks, gloves and hats were packed as temperatures dipped into the frosty 30s. Overall, the group created more than 160 bags.
“People seemed eager to help,” he said.
Taylor, along with other Scouts, joined with Cycling for Good volunteers for backpack distribution.
“At each stop, we handed out bags to everyone who was there. They were really grateful for it. They were really happy for help. By doing it, we showed them kindness,” he said.
Nate Greve, 16, another Eagle Scout recipient who attended the March 24 Mass, heard of a wish list for the CrossRoads Community Garden, a source of fresh produce for people in need, located on the back property of Chestnut Ridge Christian Church in Marietta.
Additional raised plant beds were needed to grow food. The church had been supportive of his troop as its host, and Greve said he wanted to repay its kindness by helping the ministry. He took on the task to organize, raise money and construct three wheelchair-accessible raised planting beds for the gardening community. At the end of July, he went to his local Home Depot store with building list in hand to ask for a price discount. To Greve’s surprise, store workers saw he’d done his homework for his project and gave him a 50 percent discount, he said.
A parishioner at St. Ann Church, Marietta, Greve is a member of the Life Teen ministry, in addition to helping with the parish audiovisual ministry and serving as a lector. The sophomore is a member of the marching band at Roswell High School. To earn the Eagle Scout award, a young man must earn a minimum of 21 merit badges. Greve has 24.
The garden project took 51 hours, drawing in adults and other Scouts to construct the beds. The work was delivered in early August. He recently stopped by the garden. The beds are being used as a plant nursery to nurture small seeds until the plants can be transplanted to other community gardens to replace weather-damaged plants.
Greve said he received a hero’s welcome from the gardeners when they realized how he helped them, receiving the “biggest hug ever.”
Surrounded by friends and family, Greve held his Eagle Scout Court of Honor on Sunday, Feb. 25.