First Posted: 3/2/2014
The pale halls of a nursing home are not regular territory for the six teenaged friends of Eagle Scout Nicholas James. You would rather expect to find these kids at the mall on a Saturday morning.
James gives each of his pals a shopping bag full of goodie bags and the troop takes off to distribute the gifts to residents at the Meadows Center Nursing Home as part of James’ final Eagle Scout project with Troop 232 at Gate of Heaven Church in Dallas.
The goodie bags contain toiletries like tissues, combs, nail files and a hand-drawn card from students in a kindergarten class at Lehman–Jackson Elementary School, where James’s mother Sandra, is a teacher.
James gently demonstrates to the other boys the protocol for entering patients’ rooms, introducing oneself and the mission – plus the fine art of making a courteous exit.
A 16-year-old sophomore at Holy Redeemer High School, James likes the idea of helping out and giving back to the community. “I think about my own grandparents a lot and this is a good experience,” he says.
James is not new to the nursing home environment, having volunteered there for the past four summers but his experience is a confidence builder to his friends from the troop, who wander successfully through the residents’ rooms making small talk and delivering goodie bags, occasionally deferring to James along the way.
The other Scouts also admire that James has built two red-oak rolling bookcases that will be used permanently at the home.
“I’d put these bookcases in my house,” volunteers fellow Scout Adam Barberio.
The idea came about when Charles James, Nick’s father a carpenter, had some extra boards around and the nursing home had need for something like a rolling bookcase. Father and son searched the internet for a pattern, glued the pieces together and then Nick collected about 17 cases of books for the shelves.
The whole project had to be pre-approved by the Boy Scout Council, says Nick, and with modifications took three or four months to complete.
James thinks about a career in medicine for himself and has the bedside manner part of the job down pat. He plans to volunteer again this summer at the nursing home.
Scouts planning their final project, he said, should “pick a project that they can really enjoy.”