Matt Miller of Valparaiso recently achieved something that only 5% of all Boy Scouts have achieved – he became an Eagle Scout. To earn this rank, Matt has successfully progressed through 5 other ranks, earned 21 merit badges, and completed a service project with Opportunity Enterprises.
“The choice to do my project with OE came one night while my dad and I were thinking of various organizations around Valpo that could use a helping hand,” says Miller. “OE was one of the first that come to my mind, and with that we contacted OE and set up a meeting time.”
Staff from OE met with Miller to discuss several different possible projects, and after some thought, Miller chose to build a stadium-style fire pit with seating for up to 32 people at OE’s Lakeside property.
“I chose the fire pit because it felt like it related most to scouting, in that we are always having fires to enjoy them,” says Miller, “so why shouldn’t the OE clients have a fire pit and benches to enjoy the fire as well?”
After much planning and preparation, including designing benches that were comfortable, yet safe for OE’s clients, Matt developed a plan, and selected Saturday, June 5 as the date to build. Miller, along with his parents and other scouts, installed the eight benches and fire pit in about 9 hours of work, which did not include the hours he spent in the days and weeks leading up to the building day at his scout master’s home doing pre-work for the project. Eagle Scouts must complete their project prior to their 18th birthday, which in Matt’s case was June 25.
Having achieved his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout, Miller is looking to his future, and thinking beyond high school when he will attend California Poly Technical University (Cal Poly), majoring in mechanical engineering. During college, Miller hopes to obtain an internship with a construction company to help prepare him to own his own company someday.
For Miller, scouting has provided a solid foundation upon which he can build a successful life and career.
“Scouting has taught me a lot over the years, including core values and morals like leadership, respect, character, trust, and responsibility,” shares Miller. “I’ve learned so much through scouting, and without it, I’m not sure where I would be today.”
Eagle Scout projects like this one are extremely valuable to organizations like Opportunity Enterprises because they allow projects to be completed that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive.
Matt and his dad approached OE in September of last year inquiring about the Eagle Scout project.
Cathy Kuchenmeister, Volunteer & Intern Coordinator at Opportunity Enterprises commented, “Matt is unique in that he didn’t want to do just a basic project, he wanted his Eagle Scout project to be different and special. We are honored that he selected OE as the beneficiary of his planning and hard work.”
Other aspiring Eagle Scouts are encouraged to consider OE when they’re looking for projects, and can contact Kuchenmeister at 219-464-9621, ext. 283, or email@example.com for more information.
“There are consistently new opportunities for individual volunteers, as well as larger group projects,” replied Kuchenmeister.
The fire pit that Matt Miller installed is part of OE’s larger plan for developing its Lakeside property, which includes expanding the current day services building, adding fully handicapped accessible apartments, and enhancing the property with park-like amenities such as a picnic shelter, fire pit, and nature trails.
These projects will be funded by the One Year One Challenge capital campaign, made possible by a challenge grant from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation which will match, dollar for dollar, all donations up to $2 million. For more information about this campaign and the projects it will fund, visit www.oelakeside.org.
Since 1967, OE has been a non-profit organization which creates sustainable life choices and opportunities for individuals with unique challenges and abilities. Today, OE serves 1,100 adults and children with disabilities in Porter County and throughout Northwest Indiana. For more information, visit www.oppent.org.
Photo Caption: Matt Miller assembles one of the benches he designed for his Eagle Scout project - a fire pit at OE Lakeside