In an inspiring event organized by Boy Scout Eagle Troop 512, a dedicated group of young individuals joined forces to make a positive impact on the community through a hands-on clean-up initiative.
Led by Owen Emerson, a passionate 17-year-old soon-to-be Eagle Scout, the project aimed to beautify an area outside of the Oakland Park Elks Lodge and contribute to the overall well-being of the community.
Origins of the Clean-up Initiative
Owen Emerson, an Oakland Park resident, grew up in the Boy Scouts and has always cherished the valuable contributions and support provided by the Oakland Park Elks Lodge. Recognizing the importance of giving back, Owen and his Scoutmaster, Scott Slinko, embarked on an ambitious mission to organize a clean-up initiative as Owen’s Eagle Scout project. The goal was to enhance the aesthetics of an area outside of the Elks Lodge, which had been marred by overgrown weeds and a deteriorating back wall.
Owen explains that this beautification project is an expansion of a former project organized by his friend Joey. Joey’s project involved painting the Elks Lodge and improving the front of the property, and while his project significantly improved the lodge, Owen’s project is adding some of the finishing touches.
Beautifying the Oakland Park Elks Area
The clean-up initiative involved multiple activities to transform the Oakland Park Elks area. The first phase entailed clearing the parking lot of weeds and overgrown grass. Owen and his team dedicated their efforts to remove these eyesores, providing a clean slate for further improvements. They then proceeded to lay down old rock and dirt in the area, followed by a new layer of rock and gravel, significantly enhancing the visual appeal.
Additionally, the team took on the task of repainting the back wall of the Elks Lodge, which had seen better days. By giving it a fresh coat of paint, they aimed to restore its former beauty and contribute to the overall rejuvenation of the area.
Overcoming Obstacles of Heat and Health
Throughout the project, the team faced the challenge of working in the scorching summer heat. Despite the difficult circumstances, Owen persevered, even managing his personal health conditions such as diabetes and weight management.
Owen, who talks openly about his struggles with his weight and his recent diabetes diagnosis, has lost nearly 40 lbs since may, and he credits some of his success to working on this project. He explains, “I think a lot of people are scared to take the first steps toward losing weight – I was, too. But this project helped me with my weight.”
Overcoming these obstacles taught him resilience and the importance of making positive changes in his own life while working towards community improvement.
A Community Affair
The clean-up initiative witnessed remarkable community engagement and support. Approximately 20+ individuals, including 10 troop members, volunteered their time, money, resources, and efforts to bring about the transformation.
The project received significant support from local businesses and organizations. Lowes of Oakland Park donated materials, and Acrylux, a paint company, contributed essential painting supplies. Generous donations from small businesses, members of the OP Elks Lodge, and individuals like Kim Sullivan and Steven Mattair played a crucial role in the initiative’s success.
Owen Marr, a sales rep at Lowes who is in a scooter, has also dedicated his time to helping the project succeed. Emerson explains, “He can’t walk, but he was out there on his hands and knees, pulling up weeds. This man is a hard worker, and shows that anyone is capable of making a difference.”
Owen Emerson: A Young Man With a Bright Future
Owen Emerson says some of his best memories come from scouting. “It’s a great program and it shapes kids into role models and leaders…Scouting promotes doing well in anything you pursue. It’s a great way to get involved in the community.”
Although his troop is slowly dwindling in numbers due to members graduating, getting jobs, and going off to college, Owen doesn’t see his work with the Boy Scouts stopping any time soon. “I hope to one day be able to expand and try to do more community projects if I have the manpower.”
Throughout this project, Owen has enjoyed teaching others how to use tools, pull weeds, and more. He enjoys teaching young men useful skills, and aspires to go to school for Construction Management. He says that he sees himself getting some type of position in the future, perhaps with Oakland Park, that encourages volunteering and community development.
Regarding the beautification project, Owen expresses “this will show future employers that I have dedication and that I can stick with something.”
Through teaching practical skills and expressing his passion for construction management, Owen aims to make a lasting impact on the community and demonstrate his dedication to future employers. With his determination and dedication, Owen Emerson exemplifies the spirit of scouting and the positive influence it can have on both individuals and the community as a whole.