What comes to mind when you think of an Eagle Scout? I think of wilderness camping and daring feats of strength…Imagine my surprise when Joshua Nascimento, a young high school student contacted me about fulfilling his Eagle Scout project at St. Anthony’s! Talk about daring feats of strength…and I don’t mean scaling the walls of our building. I mean the courage and compassion of responding to the needs of the impoverished—and helping to break down the walls of misunderstanding, or even simply of “not knowing” that some more fortunate members of society are held within.
Joshua, well on his way to earning the highest ranking possible in Boy Scouts, learned more about the deeper experience of poverty that many of our guests and clients are keenly familiar with. He chose to help meet some of the most basic needs that many of our guests encounter day in and day out—access to basic hygiene products. Lacking the resources to buy these item (soap, shampoo, lotion, etc. ) many folks—housed and not, go without. The consequences of not having these simple basics can aggravate health problems and can certainly contribute to increased isolation. Thanks to Joshua and his fellow troop members, his campaign to collect these items and more (combs, toothbrushes and paste, and even snacks …) resulted in enough materials to fill more than 100 handmade tote-bags chock full of these supplies and more, topped off with a hand written greeting card. Joshua’s troop assembled these together, having fun while learning the deeper issues and reality. Joshua’s project makes a positive difference now for those receiving the tote bags. His Eagle Scout project also makes a difference going forward for those who understanding of daring feats of strength has been deepened by young Joshua’s vision.
Our guests will be receiving these wonderful “care packages”, as Joshua calls them—and they are truly that. Joshua and his Mom pulled up to deliver all these gifts on a cold and rainy Tuesday, 2/20. They’d also packed the car with boxes of food donations that were given to Joshua from private vendors and businesses in support of his project. It doesn’t take “eagle eyes” to see that Joshua’s kind nature has been nurtured by caring parents. I met with Joshua and his Mom and Dad at the beginning of this project and it was clear from the start that this family could see that some of the most severe challenges in today’s world are found in our own cities and neighborhoods. Rather than turning away, they responded with real support to those in need. I had asked Joshua to share a few words about his experience with his Eagle Scout project, and this is what he had to say:
“I first learned of the charitable work of St. Anthony’s a couple of years ago when I had the opportunity to serve meals in the Dining Room as part of a school service learning project. This participation led to subsequent volunteer visits during which I gained further understanding of the plight of some of St. Anthony’s guests. Humbled by my first-hand experience of St. Anthony’s mission of service and compassion, I aspired to find a way to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than me. I put my dream into action in the form of care packages, continuing a unique St. Anthony’s tradition of personalized hospitality. Containing basic daily necessities of socks and personal hygiene items, as well as candy and an individualized birthday card, these care packages will be presented to the guests of St. Anthony’s on their birthdays. I hope that this small act of kindness will brighten their day and show appreciation for their inherent value and dignity as children of God.
I am really grateful for St. Anthony’s support in allowing me to give this gift of service. I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the support of the many who contributed to this undertaking. They include the scouts, parents, and adult leaders of Troop 12, the dental office of Dr. Bruce Newman, and the many vendors from the Travis Air Force Base Commissary and Base Exchange. Without their kind and generous support, my service project would remain just a dream.”
Eagle Scout indeed! … “Raising (others) up on Eagle’s Wings” to borrow from a beautiful song. Thank you, Joshua!